This next roll from my high school photo archives was very under exposed. Nearly all of the photos needed to have their exposure bumped up a bit so they’d be viewable. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that they were largely taken indoors, but also I wasn’t really using a reliable light meter to get the exposure right. It was probably around this time that I bought a 1940s light meter to supplement the non-functioning selenium cell light meter build into my 1950s camera. It looked cool and I didn’t know what I was doing at the time.
The one photo that speaks to me in this bunch is the football players on the homecoming parade float. It gives me “Lunch atop a Skyscraper” vibes, but you know mid-2000s instead. What really draws me into the photo isn’t the bucket hat or how the background blur of the tree seems to have a swirl effect but instead it is Matt. He’s the one lying on his stomach, staring directly into the camera.
For the longest time when I was a kid, Matt was one of my best friends or quite possibly he was my best friend for a time. I haven’t seen him in twelve years, so finding this photo of him staring and smiling right at me just hits differently. I recognize so many faces in all of these photos but Matt, like he always has, sees me.
Matt and I were good friends because we play soccer and baseball together. Our sisters played soccer and softball together and I think our parents even play soccer and softball together. But doing things together isn’t the only thing that made us good friends, we also shared so much in common outside of sports. But even more than that, Matt always had a way of making you feel seen and including you in the things he was interested in.
This photo brings back so many memories from my childhood. I’m remember smells and sounds and so much about Matt and his life. It really is funny how a single photo can spark all of that.
The heyday of our friendship ran its course from the 1st grade or so on through 8th grade. At that point, we started to grow in different directions. We didn’t stop being friends, we just weren’t the same kind of friends any more. But in those eight or so years we did a lot.
We ran through the woods outside his house, crunching our way through the fallen leaves and crisp air of autumn. Months later, we’d sled through those woods on his own private sledding hill. In the summers, we’d swim for hours in their pool. I remember being so tan from just being out in the sun for what seemed like days on end. Then we’d make our way into the house still dripping and we’d get blasted with the air conditioning. From there, we’d play video games long into the night. We kept ourselves going on junk food like brownies and Doritos and our own invention we called Batman Drink (Koolaid with a couple extra cups of sugar mixed in).
Matt was an all around good guy. To this day, he’s one of the few people I trust when he recommends books to read. And as far as my memory lets me remember, I don’t think I ever saw him angry at anyone (I’m sure he was, but that isn’t the Matt I want to remember).
In high school, we still crossed paths and still hung out from time to time. We both ran track, though, he was a sprinter and I was a long-distance runner. He performed in the musical every year and generally had a leading role, I did it one year too and enjoyed myself in part because it was more time spent with an old friend. What I really think is important to know is that Matt and I didn’t grow apart from each other and resent each other for it. No one felt like we we better than the other. Television and movies have it wrong. Sometimes you just grow apart because it is time to.
Like I said, I haven’t seen Matt in twelve years, but occasionally I still see his parents and use it as an opportunity to check in on what he’s up to. Most importantly, it always sounds like he is happy.