On memories

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

If I want to remember when something happened, I scroll through the photos on my phone.

I last cleaned out the folder in late 2019, and have since taken about 5,000 photos. I hope this doesn’t say anything about my character or attachment to technology; but, just in case it does, I will defend myself by saying that my job requires I take many photos (sincerest apologies to every source who has been told to “act casual, I need a candid photo of you”) and also, I have a dog, which permits me at least a few hundred photos a year of her simply existing.

This memory-retrieving habit has become a trusty life hack in many ways. Just last week, my husband Alex and I couldn’t remember when we purchased our kitchen stove. A few minutes of scrolling, and I knew — Dec. 5, 2021 — thanks to the photo I took of the old stove, a 1970s Fridgidaire, sitting on a dolly cart in the snow outside our front door, retired and headed to the barn with a vibrant winter sunset in the background.

Sunset at Lunch Peak. Photo by Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey.

Each year, our dog Mac has horrendous seasonal allergies. I use photos to track when her rashes start and how they progress each day. This is useful week by week in the summer, as well as year by year.

For as often as I use my phone to document mundane happenings and canine ailments, I also try to capture more obvious beauties. On a recent overnight stay at Lunch Peak, I took photos during each stage of the sunrise and shook my head when I realized that even a new iPhone couldn’t adequately capture the amethyst hue of the Cabinet Mountains.

My phone’s photo album is also full of people and things I love. Our garden is incredible this year, and I have probably 300 green, lucious photos to prove it. If Alex and I make a nice dinner, I like to document our colorful plates. If Alex does just about anything — build a bookshelf, cut down a Christmas tree, fall asleep with Mac in his recliner — you can bet I have a photo of it.

This is not to say that I remember to document everything. There are times when my phone is within reach, and other times when I couldn’t tell you where I left it.

Case in point: Our wedding day in 2021. I didn’t know where my phone was, and I didn’t need to. I’d paid a professional photographer to capture everything, after all, so Alex and I were resolved to live in the moment. We’d relive it all again in a few months when we got the photos back.

However, my favorite wedding day memory remains undocumented.

Walking back down the aisle after the ceremony, we kept on walking, past the reception, down our driveway and into our house. Hosting the event at home had its perks; after all the lead-up, it was time for a quiet moment before our grand reception entrance.

Without a phone or camera in sight, we walked through the front door, still grinning in disbelief, and were greeted by our pets. I sat on the couch while Alex mixed margaritas, then we talked and laughed in the very place where we built our relationship, surrounded by the familiar momentos of our everyday lives: our decorations, our blankets, our cat, our dog.

We’d planned to spend about 10 minutes in the house before heading back to the party, but I have a hunch more time passed. My dad came to get us, and I often try to imagine what he saw when he entered the living room: two smiling idiots — Alex in the recliner and me, swallowed by my white gown, on the couch with Mac — holding partial margaritas in mason jars.

I don’t have any photos of this moment, but I can still see the evening July sun casting slanted sun across the gray rug and the stains on the hem of my dress as I sat, dirty feet elevated on the coffee table.

I am thankful to live in a time when I can capture a memory with the flick of my thumb, and when that’s not an option, the chance to write.

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