Monday, July 23, 2007

photos and memories

I hope you have time while you're visiting the site to browse through the photo albums (I feel like I'm showing a house when I say things like that: "Did you notice the floors? Cedar. We sanded them all down and refinished them...") I have four albums, two each for Virgin Trails and All the Good Pilgrims. If you haven't read the books, they'll give you a teaser of what to expect. If you have, you'll find out what some of the people and places in the books actually look like.

Is this a good thing? You'll have to decide for yourself. I'm sure you've had the experience of seeing a movie based on a book you've read and thinking, "These actors are all wrong. They're not how I pictured them at all." You might find something similar with the photo albums - "That's not Karl. That's not Montse." - though in this case it's reality that isn't living up to your imagination. So if you want to keep your images pure and personal, approach the photo albums with caution.

You won't find pictures of everybody who appears in the books, however. (And maybe that's just as well: if there were pictures of everybody, nothing would be left to the imagination.) Not that this was a conscious ploy on my part. I dearly wish I had pictures of - just to toss out some names - Inacio and the Weird Sisters and Linda and that weirdly beautiful South African woman who told me I was part of her deja vu. If I don't have pictures of them, it's simply because I found it hard on the Camino to think in terms of posterity. We were all there together in that moment and we were going to be together for a while and no one was thinking of a time when we wouldn't be.

I noticed that a lot of pictures got taken in Santiago, when it sank in that we weren't going to be seeing each other again, maybe ever. But by that stage there were so many pilgrims you had lost track of, never to see again. And it's only when you get home and have time to go through your pictures that you realize, "I don't have a picture of Pepe? How could I not have a picture of Pepe?" But maybe that's just as well too, because when people live only in your memory, unanchored to any image, they sometimes become more fully who they are to you.

Check out the Virgin Trails album in a week or so and you'll find some bright additions. My best pictures of Lourdes are all on slides and I'm having a dozen or so converted to digital. They'll replace some of the duplicated images in the Virgin Trails album and give you a living-colour image of a fascinating place. If you want one, that is....

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