If I bounce around a lot, just bear with me as this is what has been on my mind all morning and is just my thoughts being poured out of me as they come.
Everyone has traits and quirks that just are known and associated with them by everyone that really knows them. One of mine is Russia; everyone that knows me knows how much of a Russophile I am. But that’s not the quirk that this post is about. I’m also very sentimental and nostalgic and when someone gives me something, no matter how small or insignificant, if it is a gift from their heart, it has meaning to me.
5 years ago, we moved across the country from southeast Texas to Seattle. I’ve always been close to my parents and I have a very close-knit (large) extended family; leaving them was (and still is) extraordinarily difficult. I think about them constantly and miss them deeply. It seems like I’ve constantly got thoughts and memories about at least one of them bouncing around my head. Lately, that person is my precious Daddy. It seems silly that I would be missing him so much right now given that I just spent a few weeks with him a month ago. The last time I was down, he sent me home with his old film camera. My Dad loved photography and shot a few weddings back in the 1970′s (I think that is the correct decade… I suppose it doesn’t really matter as the message is the same.) with this camera. Remember the aforementioned quirks/traits? Dad’s just happens to be that he loves a good adrenaline rush; there are countless stories that he and my brothers have told me about their motorcycle, hunting, white water rafting, fishing, scuba diving, etc. escapades with our father. This camera tagged along on many of those adventures as well. Most of these were before my time or when I was too small to take part or even care, but their stories have always been magical to me. Maybe because that was a side of Dad that I never knew? Don’t get me wrong, I would catch glimpses of it… I’d tag along on the occasional hunting or fishing trip, I rode with him on his motorcycles, and we even went diving – just the two of us – a few times. I was never exposed to the things that I associate with major adrenaline rushes and death defying acts (although I definitely secretly a bit grateful because I am a chicken and would certainly not love it). But this camera was there. See that fraying strap? It’s the original. It fascinates me to think of all the things this camera has seen.
It seems like this would be a fixture in my childhood, right? Kind of like how my cameras are a fixture in my children’s lives (and oh, how fickle they are… sometimes they love it and sometimes they loathe it), but it wasn’t. At least, I don’t think it was. It certainly wasn’t foreign to me, but I don’t have any distinct memories of seeing him whip this camera out. Maybe because this one is all manual (I am LOVING the rangefinder, by the way) and he had learned to love point and shoots by the time I came around. In fact, I don’t really remember ever seeing this camera (although I know I must have at some point) in use. My first clue as to the last time it had been used was the Disney World lens cap when I took it out of its case (the last time my dad was at Disney was when I was about 5). He handed it to me with an old roll of film still in it (unused, and probably loaded at or right after Disney World).
I’m young (25) and am a child of the digital generation. By the time I cared about taking photos of anything, film was already on it’s way out the door and almost all of my experiences with film were with a disposable camera. However, I love old stuff. And I’ve recently decided to take up film for a couple of reasons. Primarily, I noticed that I was not taking any snapshots of my kids beyond my iPhone (which is all well and good, but I’d like to have “real” photos as well, especially with a bit more control over the settings and how they look). That task just felt like work and I would take photos and never do anything with them because going beyond the step of actually snapping the shutter was just too much. So, I decided film would be the way to go. I got a Holga for Christmas, broke it before ever being able to use it (it IS a toy camera), and then finally replaced it with a Diana F+ in May-ish. When I mentioned this to my dad, he decided it was time to “break out the old Nikon.” And that, my friends, is how this lovely little camera found it’s way into my hands.
So, why is it my most prized possession? Because it is irreplaceable. The sentimental value, the connection to my father and my family, you an never put a price on that. Much like a wedding ring or an old family Bible, you can replace them with a duplicate that looks identical, but it is just not the same thing. I’m kind of weird in that I have a running mental list of “things to grab in the event of a catastrophic emergency” (like a fire, flood, etc.); on this list are my girl’s baby books and their lovies, my computer with all my photos on it, a few other odds and ends, and now this camera. I would grab the F2 over my 5D Mark II bodies in a heartbeat because those can be replaced. This precious gift that my father has given me can not, but I am so grateful and so touched to be the recipient that I wouldn’t have it any other way.