There’s a picture of us I use as a bookmark. I don’t have a conventional one. In the past I’ve used odd strands of paper and post it notes as improvised bookmarks. I don’t know how this picture came to serve this purpose but sometime during the black hole of reading countless books, I picked up this picture and thought to myself, yes this will do.
The picture itself isn’t special. It’s an old Polaroid trying to disguise a mundane moment as something historically hip and timeless. It’s a lie though because it’s not taken by an original Polaroid camera but by a copycat brought back for the imposturous millennials like ourselves. This was during a time when we thought we knew so much, when youthful naivety blinded us to truly appreciate the worth of what we pretended to be. We looked to the past not for inspiration but direct imitation. Fashion, arts, music, politics and in every other imaginable capacity, nothing of what we created was our own. We told ourselves we were original, but the concept itself was foreign to us. We were too scared, too insecure to breakaway from our own group constructed norms to be truly divergent.
The picture is no different. The picture is everything we wanted to be. The picture is of us wearing what we thought was cool going out and doing things we thought were hip. The picture is dismissible, harrowing and tragic or it would almost be had it not been for its one redeeming aspect. Amongst all the sham, there’s a hint of honesty in your laughter. Whilst I’m trying to pose, you’re lost in genuine fists of giggles and not the flattering kind that would make it a wholesome moment. No, your laughs are downright ugly and contour your face and body into the strangest of positions. Consequently, you compromise by intended pose and I’m looking back at you with slight annoyance and my own emerging amusement. I don’t know the source of what humored us but when I see these expressions, I see a spark of who we truly are during an age of grand confusion. We were both lost but also found all in one picture. The external depictions – clothes, environment, etc – of our identity were always changing as we tried to navigate the lost years of our youth but there was one constant factor amongst it all.
There’s a picture of us I use as a bookmark and like the pages of a book I don’t want to lose track of, I guess I don’t want to lose the one reminder I have of what genuine friendship looks like.