I find the rolls of film in a desk drawer. I’ve been moving around a lot- New York to Connecticut to Scotland to Los Angeles- and things are resurfacing. Lost things are being found. Two rolls of black and white film. I think they’re both from Edinburgh and so I’m not in a rush to develop them. Those memories are still fresh and plus- I have a dozen other rolls of film, thousands of digital photographs to surf through and edit. I bring both rolls to California with me and one day I put them in my bag and bring them to the developing studio. And then I forget one in the bottom of my purse and so the first one I develop is Scotland, it’s Loch Ness and cloudy Ben Nevis and blurry photographs of telephone poles slicing through empty, endless fields.
And then, weeks later, I find the second roll. It’s been sitting in the bottom of my purse, hanging in my closet, abandoned. I’m expecting more of the same: more Highlands, more Skye. Those were some of my favorite memories of my year abroad and so I would have been okay with that, I would have loved more photographs. But these are something different- I bring the second roll to the developer and leave it for a long weekend and when I pick it up and look at the preview sheet in my car, the first thing I think to myself is: I don’ t own that sweater anymore. I haven’t owned that sweater in years. When was this taken?
And then I see Amanda and the second thing I think to myself is: Amanda chopped all her hair off. When was the last time Amanda’s hair was this long?
And then I see the next photo, a cityscape, and the third thing I think to myself is: This is not Edinburgh. Where was this? What city is this?
And then I realize. This is Spain, this is Toledo. This is the Tower of the Cathedral of Toledo.
And it’s all there: the train ride to Montserrat, the macaroons in Madrid, the botanic gardens, the huge expanse of Guernica. Three years lost in a desk drawer and the film is old now, and maybe faded a bit for that. But I still remember snapping every shot. I still remember the cities. The book is almost finished and one day it will be bought and published and added to a shelf. The book of Spain. The book of magic. A long long time in the making.