The Snapshots of Ordinary

I must have been about ten when our street made the move from dirt to asphalt. I watched from the front yard as a truck loaded with thick sticky tar made its way slowly down the street. The smell was overpowering, but in my eyes it was the most exciting thing that had happened on our street all year. Cars had to be cleared away, conversations were had about the local council. I couldn’t wait for those trucks to go so I could step out onto the road and have a good look at it.

I was wearing flip flops (I’m busting to write thongs but the imagery for some of you is just too much I know). And as I made my way along the gutter, hot sticky bitumen flicked up the backs of my legs. It was the middle of summer and the weather seemed to assist in the baking process. The rubber on the bottom of my flip flops lifted the tar like chewing gum. I squelched my way to the end of the road and then walked back to my house.

I’d made about ten steps in through the kitchen before I heard my mother screech. It wasn’t just about my legs, I’d ruined the back of my shirt as well. What was I thinking? Look what I’d done. Ruined.

I wish we had more photos of that street. Photos of dirt to bitumen, cars that were driven, neighbours who met halfway and gathered in the middle of the road to catch up. Visitors that said goodbye only to stand outside and chat for another hour. Boyfriends that beeped horns, cats that lay on bonnets. Ordinary moments that didn’t feel like they deserved a picture.

That street looks completely different now.

If a family was forced to choose an iconic shot to represent them, it’s possible that my snapshot wouldn’t include me. It’s a picture of my sister on a bike on Christmas Day. My father is teaching her to ride. He has bed hair, complete with cowlick, and is wearing a bathrobe over his pyjama shorts. He’s running alongside my sister encouraging her to keep peddling and I’m not sure who’s concentrating more. I think it’s safe to assume there would have been a hangover involved on my Dad’s behalf. And it’s early, that Christmas Day early that you endure with small children. My mum must have taken the shot. Standing behind them, watching them ride/run off down the street. I love that photo. Even though I’m not in it, I can feel myself there. Looking on.

It’s the ordinary that stays with us, the little snapshots of ordinary.

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  1. Oh yes – it’s the tiniest details that bring things to life. I remember by brother trying to start the engine of his plane, sitting on the steps and flicking it for hours – that’s the sound of my childhood summers!

  2. My friend and I had ridden our bikes to a regional park. Coming home we came to a cross street that just had a new layer of asphalt applied. We had to cross it. The question became whether to ride across or walk our bikes. We chose one each. I don’t remember which was worse only that both were bad.

  3. I’m starting to take some sneaky photos of the ordinary in my family, instead of the posing shots – capturing the little things that the kids do naturally when they don’t know anybody’s looking 🙂

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