When my husband turned 30 in late April, his whole life flashed before his eyes.
Well, actually, it was just a slideshow of pictures―at least one for every year―that I put together as a surprise for his birthday.
There he is at four, in short-shorts and a striped T-shirt, the colors lost to the glory of black-and-white film. Or wearing his dad’s Soviet military cap. Or hanging out with his grandparents on the wall of a Middle Ages wooden fortress. Or striking a cool pose in a leather jacket or on top of a skateboard. Still later, the photos show him surrounded by computer parts or talking on his cell phone as he’s preparing for a photo shoot on our wedding day.
I had seen—or taken—some of these photos, but many were unearthed for the first time. They’d sat in an album at his parents’ house for quite a bit without being peeked at. The yellowed pages of the album were a testament to just how many years my other half has lived.
My mother-in-law carefully peeled the photos off their pages and sent me a large package of snapshots about a month before my husband’s birthday. I scanned them in, touched up some of them to get rid of the scratches, and arranged them in a PowerPoint presentation. That was the easy part.
I chose to ignore the hard part and instead of writing cheeky captions to each photo, I simply put the year on each slide. But I couldn’t quite escape the storytelling part of the project. As the slideshow displayed snippets of my husband’s life so far, I told stories about many of the pictures―where they were taken, how old he was, what he might have been thinking while looking at the camera. That last part was totally fictional, of course.
As I was putting the slideshow together, I laughed at the sight of the cute little boy in short shorts and I smiled at the 21-year-old I fell in love with. It made me relive some very happy memories, like picnics in the park, our wedding, trips abroad, concerts and get-togethers with friends.
And now, all the old photos from the Soviet era are digital, so we don’t have to worry about the paper yellowing or disintegrating. More than a fun birthday surprise, this was about preserving memories.