Hooo, boy. Remember this? That whole incident was nearly three years ago, and I'd entirely let the idea of it go, until this past weekend, when I was digging through boxes of my stuff hauled up from my parents' basement, and found the original photograph. My old friend, there on the porch swing, hair in his face, slightly out of focus, smoking that cigarette. Just as I'd remembered you. The photograph itself (even the negatives, which still have yet to turn up) wouldn't have been proof enough for me, but there are other photographs developed in the same batch, pictures taken of my friends in class at high school—THESE are proof enough to me.
I took that photograph. I took that photograph. I did.
I'm still grateful for the questions the incident raised, but there's a real satisfaction in knowing I'm not crazy. Digging through this box of mementoes, and seeing confirmation of things that had come back to me over the years, real and tactile proof of memories—letters from old friends, mix tape track listings, directions to a house in the country written on a piece of paper torn from a memo pad—it's distinctly comforting. I did live this life I've remembered; it's not fiction. Here is proof that it happened, that I existed.
How long my memory's coffins—this plastic bin, these bleepity-bloopity digital notes—will hold on to this existence: that's anyone's guess.
© Zan McQuade. All rights reserved.