Take a picture in your mind.

In the week leading up to our wedding a good friend of mine, a guy I’d known for years, quietly offered a suggestion for the big day. Momentous occasions such as weddings, births and deaths seem to attract well meaning recommendations – sometimes they don’t apply, this one I’ve kept and reused.

“At some stage during the evening, walk away. Find a minute for yourself. Find a spot where you can just stand and take it all in. Look at everyone from a distance and take a picture in your mind. A snapshot for your memory. It’ll go so fast, before you know it, it will be over – but you’ll always have that picture”.

He was absolutely right.

I still have that picture. I was standing in my parents back yard, about 50 metres from the marquee – looking in. I could see G talking with his sister, a friend was playing the guitar while others sang along, my parents were at a table with their friends, friends that have been in my life forever – all of it is crystal clear. I haven’t looked at our wedding photos for years, but that moment is mine. It’s embedded.

Often when the little travellers are doing something special, they’ll see something they feel is picture worthy. Sometimes it’s not special – it’s an event out of the blue. This morning it was a group of men in uniform on camels. “Take a picture in your mind” someone screamed, and in an instant I saw them all close their eyes as if that moment was being captured forever.

When I watch them do it, I wonder how differently their pictures will translate. For some it may be the camels, for others it will driving to school in Doha.

I grew up in a small country town in a little house where my Grandparents lived next door, my Aunt and Uncle next to them.  It felt safe. It was reliable and warm. There was always someone watching. The kindergarten I went to was 100 metres from my back gate. The primary school, one street away. The high school – right next to the Primary School. If someone would have told me to take a picture I would have told them there was no need. It was always going to be there. It would always the same.

The little travellers couldn’t be having a more different childhood than mine. Each one of them was brought home to a different house, in a different country after their birth. Obviously, I think about it. Will they feel safe? Will they feel secure? Has life been too disjointed? We bought the beach house with one plan – they wanted somewhere that stayed the same, a base, a home.

In my picture of the wedding there are only people. I remember the marquee was pretty, I remember how long it took friends and family to tie the bows on the back of the chairs. But in my picture, the focal points are the faces – my G, my parents, my friends, my family.

Sometimes the location is irrelevant. It’s the people that make the picture. Houses can be painted, extensions added, kitchens renovated. My fathers smile has always been the same, my mothers laugh has never changed.

Take a picture in your mind.

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  • Photographer Mum

    What fabulous advice. I had a friend tell me to do a very similar thing when I got married and I have also passed it on to friends as well. I take a picture in my mind every now and then, things  that are small but significant  to me.

  • http://www.maidinaustralia.com/ Maid In Australia

    I learned that in my travelling days when my usually wonderful camera often refused to function at times of high humidity/extreme heat. ‘Take a picture in your mind’ my then fiance/later husband would say. I learned to do it very well and can still recall them. I hope I never get alzheimers though!

  • Raineandsage

    I will be having my children take a ‘picture in their mind’. What a beautiful post.

  • http://expatlogue.wordpress.com/ Aisha at Expatlogue

    It’s the people that matter more than the places. As long as the members of your family have one another as constants in their lives, they have all they need. 

  • http://asiavufullcircle.blogspot.com/ MsCaroline

    I’ve never thought of it as ‘taking a picture’ but I have always had moments where I’ve said to myself, ‘appreciate this moment’ – which I try to do with every fiber of my being, and I’m sure it’s just the same.  I grew up as a TCK myself; the longest I lived anywhere was 4 years.  As an adult, I’m much more attached to people than to places, and I place enormous value on family and friends – I am still in near-daily email contact with several childhood friends -probably because I didn’t always have them close at hand.  My DH (also a TCK) is the same.   

       Here’s a great quote from Judith Kerr’s book, “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” – a  story about Anna, a Jewish girl whose family escapes from Hitler’s Germany and becomes refugees, first in Switzerland, then in France, then in England – This conversation between Anna and her Papa stuck in my mind when I first read it years ago as a 10 year old because it so clearly described how I felt sometimes:  “Papa,” asked Anna, ” Do you think we’ll ever really belong anywhere?”
    “I suppose not,” said Papa. “Not the way people belong who have lived in one place all their lives. But we’ll belong a little in lots of places, and I think that may be just as good.”I wouldn’t for a minute trade my childhood in Bangkok and Taipei, my adolescence in Germany, and the many, many homes my parents lived in all over the world during my growing up years.  Home for me was never a particular house.  It was wherever our family lived, or – when I got older – where my parents were living.    Each place has wonderful and special memories for me, and I have no doubt the Little Travelers will feel the same way – that they belong a little in lots of places.

  • Holly

    This is sublime Kristy, I just love the way you write!