The night moved in quickly, overtaking us on the sand. A few friends and I had gathered for a fiery sunset what seemed like minutes ago, but now we'd been dunked into darkness and nonstop gusts of wind. Slapped in the face with loose sand one too many times, I started gathering my things and digging around for my flip flops, but I was stopped short when a friend came over to borrow my digital camera. Standing tall at 6'5", I often joked than my friend's gait was that of a giraffe's—gangly and deliberate, as if he knew that his skinny limbs might give out on him at any moment.
"So, I just press here?" he asked, aiming the camera down so I could see his finger on the shutter.
Back when digital cameras were a novelty, this was the only one on the beach that day, and it was likely the first one he'd ever laid his eyes on. The huge box of the primitive camera looked small in his big hands. He aimed the camera to the sky and —click!—pressed the button.
"Send me that when you get a chance," he said, placing the boxy camera back in my hands and continuing giraffe-like onto the next group over on the sand. I looked up at where he'd pointed the camera, an empty bit of black sky, and thought to myself, "Yeah right, what a waste. Definitely erasing that one."
When I got home, I plugged my camera into my laptop and started scrolling through the photos I'd taken, mostly of friends and the varying shades of the sunset. But when I went to delete the last photo, the one my friend had taken, what I found wasn't just empty black sky. It was the iridescent moon illuminating the outline of three swaying coconut trees. It was beautiful.
And I wondered, "If he hadn't taken that photo, would I remember that night sky? Would I have even noticed its beauty?"
And so, I fell in love with photos—not as an art per se, but as a method to stamp moments into my memory forever. Because if I don't remember it, did it really happen? If I don't remember it, did it really matter?
PS. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, I hope this explains why I post so many photos of my little. :-) For example, I took the picture at the top of this post at the beach this weekend, mostly because I hope I'll never forget how much fun we had. Document, document, document, am I right?!