Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Discarded (part 1)

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 4:40 am

“He’s famous.” That was my first thought when I saw the discarded photo on the side of the road. I was walking on 700 East and at the freeway underpass, I found it. It is a picture of the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, I think. The Olympic rings are to the right. It looks like he is on a television screen. Honestly, it’s not a very good picture, but after going to the trouble of picking it up, I didn’t feel right just throwing back on the ground. I put it in my bag. I’ve always been one to rescue discarded photos.

For seven years, I worked at K-Mart. I started as a checker and worked almost every department in the store. When I was at the Service Desk, part of my job was to refund merchandise. At that time, K-mart would let you get a refund for whatever pictures you didn’t like, no questions asked. Not very many people would refund their pictures, but a few people took advantage of this program.

A poem is never finished, only abandoned.
Paul Valery (1871 – 1945)

As the recipient of these poor, rejected pictures, I always felt a sadness for them. Since we were instructed to just throw the pictures away, I would take my favorites of the discarded home. When I was looking for my photo of Calvin (still missing, sorry), I found these cast off pictures alongside the precious photos of my high school friends. Even though they didn’t depict anyone that I knew, they were just as precious to me.

I had made up stories about each picture. In one there were two boys glowing at the camera. They are dirty as hell, but they look like they were having the time of their lives. I imagined them at age nineteen, fighting in Vietnam together. I imagined them grizzled, old codgers fighting with each other. They laugh together and remember the good times in the mountains of Utah.

Back in ‘Nam ya wouldn’t have done this to me!
– Imaginary Old Coot

In another, there is a picture of a tree. The photographer had stood at the foot of the tree, turned the camera to the sky and caught it in its full splendor. I was immediately reminded of a song by The Cure called The Forest. I imagined the boy looking for his dream girl, only to find that he is just lost in the forest, all alone.

The girl was never there.
It’s always the same.
I’m running to what’s nothing.
Again and again and again and again and again.
– The Cure, The Forest

Unlike an abandoned pet, these pictures bring me comfort without the obligation. Unlike my own pictures, they bring me good memories without a hint of bad. Unlike so many of the discarded, they bring me hope of rescue. Time to think of a story for my new discarded picture.

Update 01-12-09: You can now see these photos at this entry.


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