On Saturday I went out with friends for an early birthday dinner at an Argentinian restaurant. We’d finished eating and were lingering over drinks. Suddenly, a flan with a candle jammed through the top appeared in front of me just as the band broke into the familiar strains of the Happy Birthday song.
The bandleader, a large man in a gray ponytail and a Panama Jack hat seated behind a keyboard, called me “Liz.”
Whoever Liz is, I hope she wasn’t pissed that I got her birthday flan.
Also on Saturday night, my friend returned the Diana camera I’d let her borrow for her family vacation — but it came with a surprise. A half a roll of long-forgotten-about film she’d found tucked inside. She had it developed and presented me with the prints, and within a few seconds of thumbing through them in confusion it all started coming back to me. New York. Washington, D.C. That lonely year and a half after college spent stranded on the eastern seaboard.
Has it really been six years since I last used that camera? What happened? Something about that irritating light leak that wouldn’t go away despite how much electrical tape I wrapped around the body, something about the 120 film being too expensive to buy and develop, something about me getting a shiny new digital SLR …
Something like that.
And I know the toy camera photography trend is officially overblown, but damn. Something about holding those square matte prints in my hands left me reeling. And a little verklempt.
It might be time to go back to film.