Four framed photographs decorate the walls of my living room. Each photo captures a pivotal moment in my family’s history. They are carefully chosen to show a story; a journey to happiness. An unconventional version of the American dream that can only be described by these photographs. And though there are only four, their depth could fill scrapbooks.
With a gilded border, the first photo is a reminder of a family vacation to Florida. Our clothing matches the Disney characters found throughout the park, and plastic Mickey ears adorn each of our heads. The picture is taken in front of the castle, and could easily be used in a tourist brochure. My siblings and I are standing in between our parents. Our simple smiles are spread across the paper. The picture is only ten years old, but the people in the photo almost seem unrecognizable. Perhaps it’s because I’m no longer a child and wear shoes with lights or socks with bows, but it still seems very distant. But there I am, holding a translucent mickey mouse shaped balloon next to my dad who’s holding bags that probably held an embarrassing amount of princess memorabilia. My entire family is in this photo, and everything in it is disgustingly happy. Everything from this photograph reminds me of large roller coasters and family.
The second picture is from New Year’s Eve six years ago. There’s a banner hung in the background bearing colorful block letters that spell out Happy New Years. However, the left side of the photo is folded. There’s bits of confetti sprinkled at the table we’re sitting at, and party hats sitting on dark hair. Only my siblings and my mom are visible under the glass, everything and everyone else has the audience of a wooden back. It’s truly symbolic the way half of the photo is so cleanly hidden from view. There’s a bitter memory behind the photo that sits anchored on our wall. It’s as if the memory is in the ink, staining the picture with our printed poses. There’s a split in the photo from the crease which is equivalent to the one starting in our lives at this time.
The second photo is taken in the middle of autumn. The trees are an angry shade of red that matches the feelings behind that picture. There is a new house behind us that is new and empty which is different from the one we had left. A decade of memories haunted the halls; the walls didn’t talk, they screamed. The photograph looks stiff. Boxes are scattered across the lawn, and we’re just the same. Everything in the photo is out of order and chaotic. Yet, there it placed on the wall, finding it’s home within the condensed story line of our lives. It’s the climatic photograph that has become the shifting point in our lives. It holds every possibility our lives lives could have had. It’s tangible proof of success.
The final photo is the newest. I’m with my mom and my siblings in our living room. We’re laughing, and the camera is quick enough to capture us jumping off the cushions in embarrassment and pretend annoyance. The photograph practically spills with happiness that not even the wooden frame can contain.
The seemingly quick storyline hanging in my living room destroys the idea that physical completion is a necessity for a happy family. However, it’s unfair to portray my father as absent because he isn’t. I remember him sitting in auditoriums and tagging along on school field trips and he visits on holidays. However, my family, like many others live fragmented in separate places across the nation. It’s non-traditional, but it’s genuine.