The magic of imperfect pictures, including one with a camel toe

No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the full story into a picture. Like the joy I got from rainbows shimmering in ocean spray around surfers at Zicatela Beach, or how satisfying I find fresh Guatemalan coffee made from beans grown on our temporary rental property, or the inner-excitement that pumps my soul coming to know a new place on Earth.

For so many stops on our travels, I’ve been a picture freak. I have more pictures than I ever can use or share. We’ve always taken many photos. Sometime in 2006, my husband (at that time, my main squeeze) began to use digital cameras and phones in place of the paper Kodak moments. Tedly has catalogued most of those old digital photos onto Flikr by year, or by trip. Tulum, Kitty Hawk, San Blas, Ometepe, Vegas, and the rest.

I recently viewed all the digital pictures – thousands of them. I have thousands more on my phone, up in the cloud, on flash drives, on my laptop. I’m going to be real: I had to fight the urge to delete some pictures of myself I didn’t particularly care for. You know – the shots that show me in an imperfect way. How vain and shallow of me! How social-media-in-the-21st-century of me. How could I even think of deleting a record of me? Of my life? Of that day – of that moment in glorious real time? It’s nonsensical view of reality.

Here are just a few imperfect images I came across, and left alone.

First, an unflattering image of my dog Nike (NEE’-kay) during her final days with mouth cancer. It’s also not a great shot of me. I was a mess. I put fentanyl patches on Nike near the end of her life to keep her as comfortable as possible. This image doesn’t capture the unconditional love that great dog had for me. This image reminds me that sometimes it’s best to let go. This experience helped shape the ‘me’ that I am today. It’s authentic.

Nike, a few days before she died

The next shot is of me, my friend Tasso, and my camel toe. My husband thought this was so funny (and it is). When I found this one on Flikr, it had 384 views! He thought that was even funnier (and it is). This picture does tell you how I laughed so hard that day I almost lost control of my bladder, or why I wore those silly shorts. The imperfect shot makes me remember the entire experience.

Me, Tasso, and my camel toe

Another picture shows me during my last year drinking alcohol. My liver is taxed. I’m some 20 to 25 pounds heavier. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually shot. This doesn’t show how much anguish Tedly was in (we weren’t married yet). This authentic moment had to happen, to lead to the person I’ve become since then. I don’t wish to shut the door on this past, and I won’t delete this picture.

Me, during last year of drinking

These pictures – and many others – never made it to social media. After all, these aren’t my best poses. I’m not beaming. I’m not perfect. But apparently, I am somewhat vain.

We don’t usually post the ugly moments of our lives. We don’t post the trash in the background of that beauty shot, and we don’t post when the baby cries as her parents try for the perfect family photo. Where are the pictures with dogs and fentanyl patches? The funny camel toe? The bloated drunk who stole and broke our heart? Where are the candid moments – the real moments? Where is the authenticity? There are no magic moments in perfectly staged facades of life.

Back to those rainbows at Zicatela Beach. I never captured any in a single photo. The rainbows are real – I swear. At first, I was bummed I didn’t get that ‘perfect shot’. It took me some time to realize: I can’t share real-time experiences with you, even if I had gotten the shot. I can’t get the whole story in there.

Shareable shots on social media can create a fake reality from a staged moment. It’s the imperfect pictures that really jog my memory about authentic experiences, and remind me of my connection to the people (or creatures) in my life at that time – my authentic experience. What was I feeling as I sat open-legged on the floor holding my dog? Why am I even wearing those shorts with Tasso that day I laughed my fool head off? Why was my former self a bloated drunk?

Even if you could see the rainbows in my pictures, you wouldn’t know how they affected me unless you were there, in real time. And if you were there in real time, and if we did share that moment together, that – that would be truly magical. Because real relationships with people happen only when I let you see the imperfect me – the real me.

I want to share one more authentic shot. (Ha! One where I look a little better! Hey, I’ve already said I’m a bit vain…)

The picture is a little out of focus, the lighting isn’t quite right, the framing is off, Tedly isn’t ready for the camera, and he is wearing that swimsuit only because I made him wear it (he hates it, I love it). We were in Tulum (yet again) back in December 2012. We danced around the beach for the end of the Mayan calendar around our annual Christmas tree made of trash, because I can be somewhat kooky that way. The love you can’t see in this picture – but I know is there – is authentic. That love is magic. And I would never, ever delete that.

Tedly & Me, Tulum, Dec. 2012

 

 

🙂

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