by Susan Helene Gottfried
As you're reading this, I'm in Canada, hopefully far from any of my computers, although I suspect we'll have at least one laptop with us. Yesterday was, after all, Thursday, and any of my regular groupies can tell you how important Thursdays are in my world.
I chose to travel on a Thursday because it's been two-and-a-half years since my family's last vacation. I'm overdue, to make a gross understatement.
I love to travel. I love to explore new places, see how other people live, learn new things. I love the possibilities that overload my brain.
The Tour Manager will refute this until he turns shades of blue, but for someone named after a job that you only do when you travel, he's a homebody. Maybe it's that he doesn't like to plan; I don't know. All I know for certain is that I'm the one who sat down three weeks ago and started showing the kids pictures of Niagara Falls. The Tour Manager, upon hearing us, fired up one of our other five computers and joined the effort.
Which is why, as you're reading this, I am running around Canada, reveling in the sights. I was here as a kid, myself; my memories are vague. Something about not being allowed to do something, a blue sky, and a little teepee my parents bought me in the souvenir shop. Of the Falls themselves, I remember virtually nothing.
My dad gave me a CD-ROM with all of his old pictures on it, including pictures of my own first time in Niagara. I dug it out in the hopes that the pictures would invoke more memories.
Lo and behold, my dad -- a man who takes amazing quantities of pictures for no good reason -- had taken exactly FIVE pictures: three were of the falls themselves. One was of my sisters with the falls in the background, badly backlit so that you can't see their faces. And the last one? My dad, in the same setting and equally as backlit.
Not much help in the memory department, I'm afraid. In fact, the pictures were useless in that regard. I'm not even sure they'll scrapbook well.
Even before I made scrapbooks and had kids to fill the books with, I'd become quite the photographer -- probably because it was a way to be closer to my dad. I expect I'll take lots of pictures while we're in Niagara. None of that posed stuff for me, either; I like it candid.
Even if my kids come home with only vague images that'll carry into their adult years, I'll have the pictorial supplements I lack of my fist visit to the Falls. Memories may exist only in our brains, but having a slew of pictures sure helps flesh out those memories and keep them real.
And maybe, just maybe, they'll help remind the Tour Manager how much fun it is when the family heads out on the road.