What Life Feels Like When You Choose Not to Document It

Most of the images of my life are not tangible.

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We spent 48 hours roaming around small towns in Northern Arizona, driving back roads to get there. We stayed at a 103-year-old bed and breakfast, drank a stunning Malvasia wine at a table overlooking a vineyard, and watched the fog roll in over red rocks. It was our first vacation together.

I have no proof that any of this actually happened.

I took one picture the entire time my boyfriend and I were on our mini-vacation. It was of a bumblebee on a flower on the lushly planted patio to our room. I had never seen one so big. Chris was amused that I had turned into an 8-year-old with my level of excitement and suggested I take the bee’s picture. We laughed.

There is nothing posted on social media. I sent no pictures to friends. Not one selfie was taken of myself or of us. What I have though, are loads of memories no one else will ever see.

Our first night away, we met the family that was sharing the small bed and breakfast with us. There were only three other rooms in the place besides ours. It has sprawling gardens and we took a bottle of wine out to watch the sunset.

Chris brought his guitar and someone else had a ukelele. All of us sat out there for hours. At one point it occurred to me to take a picture and I realized I hadn’t even brought my phone out. I was too damn busy enjoying myself.

Knowing I had no way of tangibly documenting it, I had to commit it to memory. I scanned the group several times, even describing things in my head so I remembered them well. I took mental pictures.


I did this for two days.

When you don’t take pictures you look at things differently and take them in on another level.

It’s not just the images. It’s feelings. It’s the taste of that Malvasia wine. It’s what the flowers on the patio smelled like. It’s the sound of the creek running through the vineyard.

You take a minute and close your eyes and notice what you may miss otherwise. Taking my camera out and filming the creek is easy. Committing the experience to memory takes effort.

If you asked me for a picture of my boyfriend, I have nothing to show you. Not one picture. But I could tell you about a half dozen scars he has. How he rolls his shoulders back when he walks. How when he laughs big his whole body takes part in it.

Whenever Chris leaves the table, I watch him walk away and I watch him walk back. I can recall in my memory his crooked smile as he locks eyes with me and smiles. Watching him walk towards me fills me with a strange level of comfort, contentment, and joy. I can’t get that feeling from a picture.

He has one picture of us together on his phone that we both hate because we look oddly pudgy because of wind and angles. It’s funny. He has a picture of me in the vineyard. I love than he took it and hope he understands why I didn’t take a single picture of him and never have.

I will. Sometime.

The sweaty, post mountain bike ride selfie he sent me this morning does just fine. I send him selfies, too. This is me. This is what life looks like when you’re not next to me.

I’m trying to live in the moment and with pure intentions.

In the past, I would have taken a picture of myself and stuck it out there on social media. Look what I’m doing. But, I don’t care what anyone thinks about what I’m doing.

I also would have taken a picture of my handsome new boyfriend and paraded him, showing him off. But, I don’t care about that either. I disconnected.

I would rather spend my time focusing on being with him and enjoying his company instead of spending part of our short vacation looking at my phone to see what people’s reactions to my picture on social media were.

There are times I worry that nothing of my experiences will be left behind but I know that’s not true. I write about them in one place or another. I put them down here. I’d rather have my words convey the experience than a picture. If I ceased to be, Chris could read these words and know he was loved more than finding a picture of him walking towards me could ever tell him.

I choose to drink moments in like that sunset bottle of wine. The movie is always better when I replay it in my mind than when I look at a still.

Written by

Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, I won’t stop taking pictures of my drinks. IG: vanessaltorre

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