Shorts: Faded pictures

Inspired by my recent blog post, and hence thoughts of my upcoming wedding!

My husband Sean and I were one of the first. A lot of people came out of love, some because they knew we’d give them a good time, a few because we were interesting and they’d never seen anything like it before. We married at that time when all of us were resisting the onslaught of technology; it was coming and there was nothing we could do, but because we were still curious we rebelled against minor things, like Instagram. So we banned phones from our ceremony – but we had the good sense to hire a photographer – a professional, who’d go and get a load of candid shots of people having a great time.

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Photo by Terje Sollie on

We were never one of those ‘happy’ couples, Sean and I. I was always doing this and that, out late, or back early. He was in some days and out others. Our schedules weren’t married like we were. And I was always doing a lot of the housework – his share, mostly, and curiously he did mine. We never agreed on the silly things, like housework or bedtime. But we were silly together.

We never had kids. I didn’t want them, and Sean was okay with that. I don’t think he ever felt strongly about it. People kept telling us we were missing out, but I kept thinking there were too many people in the world, and there were no guarantees of love. We were the lucky ones. They said having kids really made them grow up. I’m glad we stayed young.

Now, at the end of life, we fight about something else, Sean and I. It’s like we’re both racing each other to the finish line. We always have. Neither of us have cared who earns more – but we have competed over happiness. “You’re happier than me” was always met by “then change something”. Who can get the job that means more to them first? Who’s going to the most parties? We didn’t mean to compete like this, but we did anyway.

And now we fight about the last thing that’s left to fight about. We threaten each other about it, Sean and I. “I’m going first,” I say, adding “and you better not try to beat me to it.”

Sean can’t go up the stairs anymore, but I can, even though I’m older. I always used that as an excuse: “I can’t stay late tonight. I’m getting too old for that.” And Sean would chide me for being ridiculous, which of course it was, until he started using it.

“You can’t just call it,” he’d reply. “And you’re not allowed to cheat either.” The definition of cheating has been defined and redefined as the days move on. Neither of us wants to be last. Neither of us wants to find out who it’ll be, either, because there’s really only one way of knowing. So we find ourselves hoping for some particularly high roll of the dice, so we win together.

I look back at the photos now, on our little computer, which is just a transparent piece of plastic. All of the components are transparent, colourless, now. I’m not sure all of the technology that goes into it is necessary, but it’s certainly beautiful. The photos themselves seem low resolution by today’s standards, even though I remember at the time thinking how crisp and perfect they seemed. Photos don’t fade like the ones my parents had – but the world keeps moving and our memories become harder to access, more fragmented, surrounded by a happy, silvery haze.

In particular, I find myself staring at photos of just the two of us, and how completely, honestly happy we were. We still are. ‘Don’t go first,’ I whisper to the photograph. ‘I just couldn’t bear it.’


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