On a recent trip to Mexico, I lost my camera. It wasn't an expensive camera. We bought it using accumulated Airmiles points. In this sense, it was almost free. Its focus capabilities were lousy. It was a point and shoot, but I had to point and shoot very patiently as this little gadget consistently took its time in capturing images, often blurring and focusing in on the wrong subjects. To teenagers, the technology of my departed camera would be akin to that of a telegraph machine.
But to me that camera was dear. It came with me everywhere, witnessing weddings and family reunions, books signings and mountain drives. That little camera brought me photos of friends and their children and their pets. It came with us and a taxi driver to a cemetery in Savannah, Georgia where it kept for me images of sad angel monuments framed by branches heavy with hanging Spanish moss. It helped me to remember the beauty of the Arizona desert and the simplicity of spring's first crocuses.
I almost lost my camera a time or two before. Upon exiting the train onto a downtown Seattle LRT platform, a loud shout drew the attention of everyone. "Camera! Camera! Someone forgot a camera!"
Instantly, I thought, "Who is the crazed lunatic and what is he shouting about?" In the firing of a synapse, I realized that he was not a crazed lunatic but instead a helpful train employee, and that it was my camera case he held up above the crowd for all to see.
Thanks to that kind (and somewhat annoyed) train conductor, that camera accompanied us on our 4th of July evening exploration of some of the best watering holes the fine city of Seattle has to offer.
How did I lose my camera, you ask? Well, speaking of watering holes, we had just returned from one in a neighbouring village. There we had each enjoyed a lime margarita the size of my head. We got off the bus at the side of the highway and walked through the jungle, down to the resort. My husband wisely headed to our room for a nap while I made my slightly wobbly way down to the ocean's side where I love to lie and listen to the waves.
There on the beach a server from the bar/restaurant would come by periodically and offer me an additional lime margarita. I accepted a couple of beverages before remembering that I was to meet some friends at the pool. The last pictures my camera took were of the gawky seabirds that strutted their ungainly stuff over the rocks and sand along the shoreline, and the graceful ones that skimmed the ocean's rippled surface.
I still feel sad and sentimental about my old Airmiles camera. I know it won't mean anything to anyone else in this big world. It's probably in a dump now somewhere, discarded and forgotten.
I also feel a tad irresponsible. That camera had served me well, had been a good travel companion. Did it use too many batteries when the flash was needed? You bet. Did I drink too many margaritas and forget it on the beach? Yes, I did.
On the way home, we bought a new camera. I've taken two pictures with it. Impressive! It has a stunningly sharp and quick focus, and a million pixels. But it's too soon for me to feel any joy at the wonders of the new camera. I will, I know. After all, it's great.
But how can making a new friend replace the memory of an old one and all the things we did together? It simply can't. Not really. Goodbye, old friend.