I am staying with family in Maryland while looking for a new place to live in Pennsylvania. I was in Pennsylvania yesterday when the movers delivered my things.
I came back tonight to discover that many boxes have been smashed and badly water damaged. One such box was labeled "Fragile! Frames!". In it were lots of my most prized pictures. The soggy box practically crumbled in my hands. The cardboard just peeled off. I unwrapped several of my pictures to discover that they had been soaked through. The prints were already wrinkling and discoloring.
Of course I keep my images on file and kept my hard drives on me during the move. I can replace the pictures I took digitally. And I can always buy new frames. I can't, however, replace the pictures I shot on film and developed myself in the dark room during photography school. Three pictures in particular were shot on black and white film in Bannack, a Montana ghost town. These pictures were my final project and a true labor of love as I spent hours in the darkroom carefully dodging and burning to perfection. It hurts that they've been ruined by careless movers.
Most painful is the loss of a picture of an iris. It was an incredibly special picture to me. Also a black and white print from school, it was my first finished print. I had spent so much time agonizing which picture I wanted to use first when learning how to develop my own prints. It was important because it was to be a gift and I wanted to give something as special as my very first print. I learned how to develop pictures with this print.
I was so happy with the result. I framed it and gave it to my dad for his birthday. It really wouldn't have mattered what it looked like, but he was proud of me and loved the picture.
He died about 2 weeks later.
The iris print is wrinkled and has a big splotchy pink water stain. Sad doesn't even begin to describe it. I'll go through the rest of my crumpled boxes tomorrow.
“A man's real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.”