“Let me photograph you in this light,
In case it is the last time,
That we might be exactly like we were,” – from “When We Were Young” by Adele (Adkins, Jesso Jr.)
I found an old newspaper that I saved because it had picture that hit a chord of inspiration for me. Here’s the story I wrote about it:
Olivia kept the photograph of her grade three class because it was in the newspaper. When she was nine, she did not really understand why it was a big deal to have your picture in the newspaper. Her mother kept it safe for her at first, and over the last twenty years, it traveled everywhere Olivia traveled. Even to the mushroom-tripped and MDMA flights during Thailand’s full moon parties, the picture was in her bag. What Olivia most enjoyed about it was you couldn’t see her face. Naomi’s right arm covers it as she raises both triumphantly in the air. Olivia’s own arms are also raised, but in front of her. She always thought this was hilarious as there is no way to confirm it is even her in the picture.
She kept it for three other reasons. The first, the picture was taken of her class in celebration of her teacher, Mrs. Worley, winning an award. The second and third are Thomas and Timo.
Thomas looks like a crazy person which totally fits him. He’s in the front row and his gaping smile is wider than anything in the room. His blonde hair drapes almost down to the tips of his gray hoodie that lays open over the black t-shirt with Misfits in green script across its front. His right hand is raised and wide open in view of the picture and his left hides out of the shot. Much like Thomas himself, the pose has him present in the moment while also reaching toward whatever was to come next. This was Thomas’ adventurous spirit captured perfectly for eternity.
It was that spirit that inspired Olivia in many ways. Travel was the big one, but Thomas also inspired her to literally do something new or different every day. If she stirred her coffee clockwise yesterday, do it counterclockwise today. If she walked on the north side of street yesterday, cross at every light and alternate each side. They were little things, but in his brain they made things new, which was his goal.
Olivia broke her concentration on the old photograph and focused again on the obituaries. She always thought she would run across Thomas in those pages at some point due to some adventure induced catastrophe. Olivia wondered how many of these people had a Thomas in their life? A person who would inspire some kind of difference every day. Someone who made their now-over lives something different than what they would have been. Or maybe they were a Thomas to others?
Her thoughts were kept at bay somewhat when she heard news from Timo. Almost nine years ago, Thomas left him and their apartment one morning never to return and without explanation. Recently, Timo heard he had settled down in Oakville with some guy he met during a mountain climbing adventure and they were expecting a baby.
Regardless, it was time to call Timo for their daily chat and figure what time was best to bring flowers to the funeral home for Mrs. Worley. Maybe after nine years Olivia would get to see Thomas again as well.