Photos and Ghostly Fragments

It’s my third year in a row of bringing in a new year in a different country. Two years ago I was crowded onto the infamous Charles Bridge in Prague, waiting to see spectacular fireworks. Last year I was in the main plaza of Florence, horrified by the terrible live music playing, and hoping not to get sprayed with champagne or hit by flying bottles. This year, I’m bringing in the year in Spain, heading to a huge family party, ignoring the fact that I don’t have the red underwear you’re apparently supposed to wear, and prepping myself to eat the allotted 12 grapes.

Despite the change of location, the process of reflecting on the past year and wondering what determinations I’m going to set for the new one hasn’t changed. And my reflection seems to be even more profound this year, as I wander up and down the streets of my old town of Linares, passing by familiar cafes and bars, with bits and pieces of memories drifting past my mind’s eye.

As we all know, as you get older, days and months and years pass by faster and faster until it all becomes a blur, and when you look back all you have are fragments. Eventually even those fragments are hard to focus in on, and they become ghosts of fragments. For some reason, I feel that that happens even more for travelers. When you have the fortune of traveling from country to country, bouncing around frequently, your life becomes filled with a plethora of new events, situations, restaurants, bars, friends. It’s a beautiful thing, but sometimes I find it hard to hang on to all of it. As time passes and more trips are taken, the memories and experiences become so many that the ones at the bottom begin to fall through the crevices of my fingers as hard as I try to hold on. The simple fact that it’s been three years since I’ve lived in Costa Rica, or that two years from now I’ll be looking back thinking, “Hey, remember when I lived in Spain?”, boggles my mind!

So how do you hang on? How do you retain that? Or, what can you do to at least help you bring back those memories after years have passed?

Recently, I was given a gift of printed pictures from several trips that I’ve taken over the past year. I’m slightly embarrassed to share how pleasantly surprised I was, not because of the gift itself, but because it has been so long since I have printed out pictures. In the age when everything is now digital, and if I feel like reminiscing I can simply open up my Facebook albums or the photo gallery on my phone, I’ve grown accustomed to not actually having pictures around. Not only that, but pictures have taken on slightly less importance than they used to. Now I find myself taking pictures simply for the fact of taking them, and because I can take so many, I think less about what I’m actually snapping a shot of….

Remember the Polaroid days, when every shot you took counted so you had to absolutely make sure you chose wisely what you were taking a picture of and get it right on the first shot?

In any case, going through those photos that, granted being taken by a great photographer, had so much meaning and significance, it reminded me of how important it is to make sure that every moment we live carries such meaning. Getting caught up in country hopping is a fantastic thing and has now become what I see as a lifetime habit. But because as travelers we continue to move around constantly, I understand even more now how important it is to make every moment significant…and help us to hold on to those ghosts of fragments for a little while longer.

Of course I can’t write a post on the last day of the year without sharing some sort of resolution, right? Well, I’ve got a ton floating through my head and trying to word them right now escapes me. But I do know that in the year of 2015 I want to make a concentrated effort to share with the world profound moments, moments with meaning and significance, and to truly treasure the memories I am in the process of making.

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