Digital and analog are not the same thing. I am not talking about the somewhat tired and now antiquated discussion about recorded music. I surrendered some time ago to the convenience of pushing a button or simply asking Google to play Suburban Lawns "Flying Saucer Safari." There is a lot to be said for the challenge of pawing through a collection of vinyl and taking the album carefully from its dust sleeve and setting it on the table to cue up that one song, snap crackles and pops. I could go on about the liner notes and lyric sheets and artwork that has been resigned to a past that includes a CD collection as well.
But I promised not to go there. Apologies.
Instead I refer to another kind of album: Photo. In the busy-ness of cleaning the house over the past week or so, I found myself sitting down in front of a bookcase that had not received my full attention for some time. It is the one that holds our photo albums. The pictorial history of a life spent together, my wife and me. And then along comes our son. And our dog. The adventures we shared. The occasions we celebrated. The sunsets we watched. They are all there, lovingly arranged and cataloged for a decade, and then perhaps we ran out of shelf space. Or we started taking digital photos. And for a moment there, we lived a lie that we would be ordering prints from one of those online sites that will do that kind of thing for those of us who need something to touch.
Something that touches us.
I found some envelopes of stray photos that had never made it to an album. Rather, these were a group of pictures that had been set aside after our dog went to heaven, where all dogs go. As I sat there on the floor, flipping through these memories right there in my hands, I felt connection to a beloved pet that still shows up in my dreams at night, and cannot be replaced. It was as different as those vinyl albums are to the Mp3s of the very same music. I found a pocket-sized album that had been left empty, I reasoned, for just this purpose. I made a new album of pictures of our dog.
And I cried, just a little, as I finished that little chore. Then I smiled knowing that she has a place now. Not someplace in a cloud.
In my heart and on that shelf.