I couldn’t fall back asleep after I took Buckley on a walk this morning. For entertainment, I scrolled through the many photos of myself on Facebook. I was interested in seeing how different I looked, over the years, but what really struck me was the chronicle that Facebook offered of my past relationships.

Every major thing I ever had is there. There’s Curtis. My brother was creeped out by him from the beginning, and, from these photos, I can see why. Then David, making funny faces, and looking both crazy and magical. Eric, looking like the sweet, gentle boy he was. There are pictures of Gi, a rebound from high school – it’s clear in every one of them that I just want to get away from him. And then just a few prom pictures with Nick, my first boyfriend and first love. I was so tiny and young. All teeth and big hair.

Even weirder, though, are the moments in which the more fleeting relationships were captured on film. There are a few photos of me at parties with men whom I later slept with. I remember their faces, in context, but I don’t know their names or anything else about them.

It’s funny, because I’ve filed all of these people away (or forgotten them) in a certain way. They fit into folders in my brain – usually abbreviated summaries of what the relationship was, ideas that I can reference as needed, but don’t think about much. These pictures don’t all fit in with those ideas. Or they reflect things back to me that I can see now, but didn’t realize then. Especially body language. That’s the weirdest one – how my subconscious seems to react to each of these men.

Obviously, there are also a lot of photos of friends and Buckley and family and silliness. I’m in no way dismissing those, or suggesting that the only significant parts of my past are those parts with men in them. But the other photos aren’t nearly as jarring. Maybe that says something fundamental about my relationships with men. I feel like I mostly look sad in them. But maybe that’s just normal, when looking at past relationships. We see our regrets, our missed cues, loved ones lost. And things that we are happy to forget.

I’m very tempted to just delete them all and never have to see them again. Because that experience of looking through my past was fucking depressing. But that wouldn’t really change anything. So I’ll let those photos be, and just remember not to stalk myself in the future. And to take more pictures of myself, now that I’m actually happy.

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