The first family road trip, that I can remember, happened sometime around the age of eight or nine. I was handed a Kodak disposable camera and carefully tried to ration the allotted photos that could be taken on the wind-up-operating device. However, because I was only eight and had no experience with cameras and didn’t feel like using the view finder, I quickly went through the film reel by taking terrible pictures with thumbs partial blocking blurred views of ordinary trees from the inside of a moving car.
I didn’t get to capture the macabre findings of the Winchester House of Mystery in San Jose, the beautiful architectural design of Hearst Castle, or the historical treasures found in the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.
I quickly became aware of my lack of photography skills but was still out of luck when it came to capturing the memories of trips such the family trip that we took through Northern California.
I asked my mom to buy me a post card from one of the places we visited on our trip to capture my experiences and share them with a friend through writing. I promptly grabbed a pen in the car after the purchase and began to write. A bump in the road had halted my writing by causing a messy unintended stroke from the leaky fountain pen.
“Mom!” I called from the back seat of the car. “I messed up my post card. Can we go back and get a new one?”
“Why don’t you just keep that one for yourself and get a new one for your friend from the next place we go to?” My mom turned her head slightly to face me from the passenger’s seat. “Besides, if we send the card now it won’t reach her until after we get back.”
I looked down at my mistake and thought to myself. No one would want it now. It was ruined. I turned the post card back over to the front where the image of one of the places we had visited was displayed. It was a great picture, far better than the ones that were sitting on the roll of disposable film.
I continued holding the card and thought about how there were people out there who took the time to professionally capture the images of places, which other people have also visited, for them. It was a guarantee that they would get a perfect shot of the landscape of where they had ventured off to see. No matter where you went you could procure the perfect photo and capture a memory of trip that you have taken. The pressure to take that perfect shot could now be completely lifted.
I had always watched my parents by keepsake mugs from different places for themselves, collectors’ spoons for one of my uncles, and various key chains and trinkets for my sister and I. They had created a habit of collecting these items whenever they took a trip and I thought about doing the same.
“I’ll keep this card for myself,” I had told my mom. “I think I should buy a post card from every place that I visit in order to make sure I get a perfect picture no matter what.”
Post cards, along with books and journals, became sort of my “thing” to collect. People would automatically know what to get me whenever they traveled and wanted to bring me back something, and I could easily store them in a carryon bag instead of something that could easily break, such as a shot glass or coffee mug. Every place would, most likely, have a post card too.
I could easily keep a collection of memories wherever I traveled in the post cards that I gathered. I could right down what had happened in my journals, and read more about the places I had wandered off too in books. Although I’m a much better photographer than I was when I was eight-years-old, I can enjoy my time and be in the moment and I don’t have to worry about missing the perfect shot.