Instagraming Your Life


I got an iPhone this past summer, my first one because I was waiting for my carrier of choice to offer them and then had to wait for my upgrade. But after years of drooling over the iPhone, I got it. While I was using my Droid (which I really did love) I starting playing with Instagram and other photography apps. Taking it over to the iPhone seemed to take it to the next level and that might be my mind playing tricks on me. I do have a soft spot for Apple products though. . .

Instagram is a cool little app that will let you lay a filter on top of the picture, it can be framed, muted, blurred. . .and then you post it for all the world to see. Those tricks to make a photograph look artistic, better or more dramatic didn’t change the actual picture. It’s still a picture of my cat, Radnor Lake or the sky. With a click of the camera and a swipe at the effect, I have made a so so fall afternoon at Radnor look like an outtake from the woods of Maine. All crisp yellows, reds and oranges glowing as if someone took a paintbrush to it. And then I realized, I have been instagraming the crap out of old memories.

It reminded me of a comment made by a friend years ago; when talking about my love for NYC (at the ripe old age of 17) he said I viewed the city through rose colored glasses. My mother agreed. I, on the other hand, did not agree, even to this day, I love NYC. I also don’t see the mess, as my mother pointed out to me often, it’s just not in my nature.

I think we all go around from time to time, remembering the past with a filter on it causing it to blur, become muted and sitting there like a pretty little package waiting to be torn open on Christmas morning. I have been guilty of this when it comes to old flames or crushes.

Case in point. . . the little red headed boy. He was my first boyfriend, way back in fourth grade. He even gave me a necklace and candy on Valentine’s Day. And it all started with a note asking me to go with him by checking yes or no (George Strait has nothing on me). It was a love affair for the ages. Well, until I decided that I didn’t want to go with him anymore. It ended, he took up with my best friend and I gave her the stuff he gave me. As we got older, the little red headed boy and I became friends. Such good friends that I believe we got in trouble for tying the phone line up one evening yapping to each other (long before the days of call waiting).

When you are that young, kids don’t understand how you could be friends instead of just dating. To us, it made sense. And I also had ADD when it came to boys back then as well as a horrible habit of going for the bad boy. But we spent a lot of time around each other, talking, laughing and then having to explain what the deal was with us. This played out throughout school until graduation.

I never thought of that little red headed boy in a romantic way until one night we hung out when he was in town from college. As we always did when he came into town, we went out. We caught each other up on our lives, talked about former classmates and made fun of each other. Solid friend hanging out time. At the end of a long night hanging out, he kissed me. I was surprised when he did, shocked that I really liked it and confused as to what in the world did it all mean. Then reality set in, he lived two hours away, we had different things going on and what could have been was not going to happen.

Once I transferred to the same college he was at, we tried again but by this point I was ready to get out, meet people and ended up spending a chunk of quality time at the fraternity house. Timing was always off and deep down I think we both knew that those two little kids passing notes in Mrs. Baker’s class were very different people now. We grew up and moved on; it happens.

But here comes the fun part. . . I have instagramed the crap out of that little red headed boy since college. Pulling out tidbits of blurred memories, dressing them up, muting them to just the right color and swearing up and down that he must be the boy for me. I believe he was my fallback each and every time Bubba and I would sign on for WWIII. My 38 year old self sees that now and will openly admit that while I will always have a soft spot for that little red headed boy, we are really two very different people now. We both changed during college and I am sure I went to a more wilder side than him but it was those fun memories of when we were young that made me think that it would work.

While that example isn’t all that bad, I bring out my next exhibit. . . Bubba. Dear Lord, I instagramed that relationship from hell to the point that it looked like soft, fuzzy kittens were playing in a field. We brought out the worst in each other, he spent more time and energy trying to come up with ways to push me and I fell right into the trap. Things would be great, he would be sweet and then bam! he had his tongue down some girl’s throat and it wasn’t mine. He would party hard and flirt but if a guy happened to pass in front of me he would blow up. He would say horrible things to me, tearing me down, piece by piece until I was convinced I was lucky to have him. Then we would break up. . .

And I would start to instagram the memories, blurring the times he had thrown himself at other women, making it into a huge misunderstanding or I would put a dreamy filter on the ones where he told me I was fat so I could remember it as he really only cared about my health. Sounds like an amazing relationship huh? I spent seven and a half years playing this horrible game of cat and mouse with him. I still have the scars from our time together but Bubba and I finally got the memo that we would never, ever work as a couple.

And then I instagramed Jorge and the boy. . . yeah, I could fill pages up of how not to chose a guy. The boy was shallow, so I would have to put nice shiny, bright filters on my memories with him. Dressing up memories that really weren’t suited to see the light of day the first time around. Blurring out the indifference that Jorge had for the relationship, sharpening the few where he babied me when I was sick to make those really stand out. Like I said, I have a real knack for picking them!

It is hard sometimes to look back and force myself to see the memories without all the airbrushing. I have to admit that I was part of the destructive cycle with Bubba and with the others, simply ignoring the red flags and pretending that it was all perfect. And while I do like to soften the memories up a bit, just like I enjoy playing with the different looks on Instagram, the reality is summed up as this: it is what it is. I can’t change how I was treated, how I treated them or make the memory better. I can’t go back and touch up a moment in hopes that making it look better will make it work now.

The fact that I prefer to see the good in people instead of the bad immediately does tend to translate into either I am not that smart, naive or just see things through rose colored glasses. The reality is I just want to think that people in general are not inherently bad people. This part of my personality does tend to open me up to being surprised quite often. I have also become more cynical as I have gotten older when it comes to relationships which in turn causes me to throw every wall around me up.

Chandler got to deal with my walls and bless him for being patient with me. I was so paranoid about me time, being my own person, etc. that I almost missed out on probably one of the better relationships I have experienced. I can remember him calling me one night when he got home, he wanted to analyze my mood and what we had talked about earlier in the evening. He said I had to talk to him for it to work. Such a novel concept. And that sometimes, those moments are ones that you need to frame and hang on your wall.

For now, I will try to keep my instagraming strictly to pictures and accept that good or bad, the friends, boyfriends, relationships and the kitchen sink from my past are in my past. That none of us are those kids from 20 years ago and photoshopping the past doesn’t make the present or future better. Often times it only means that I am copying the picture in hopes that the outcome is different this time. Kind of like when I kept shoving that square peg into the round hole known as Bubba.

I am thankful that I might actually be learning a few things, finally. My thick skull makes it hard for me to learn new things. I like to blame that on my dad but that is as much a K family trait as it is a C family trait. And that trait makes for great stories for friends to laugh at when we are together. Which is really the reason why they keep me around. . .

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