A couple of years ago, my mother found an old roll of film in her house and developed it. She didn’t recognize any of the faces in the pictures.
Most of the guests that she and my stepfather have hosted in their home over the last 18 years have been family members. So she passed the pictures around at Christmas after she found them. Still, no one recognized the people, the flowers, the welcoming goose or the bell.
I found the pictures again today. I’ve been trying to clear a few of the stray boxes of random stuff I have around the house. My husband asked why I kept them, since no one knows who these people are.
The images are so methodical and symmetrical. They were taken with such clear intent, meant to be put in a multi-paned frame or photo album and passed through generations. It seemed callous to cast them, negatives and all, into the garbage.
I’m also fond of the weird and rosy glow that the aged film gave their earnest expressions. I like the hint of a ponytail that sits on the androgynous Hello Kitty child’s shoulder like three shoelaces.
By the time that the fourth or fifth family member looked at these and shrugged in utter confusion, I laughed for an unreasonable amount of time. I imagined all kinds of scenarios that could land a stray roll of film at our house, by way of somebody’s purse, luggage or briefcase. I imagined family members with unknown second lives and science fiction conspiracies in which these important faces were zapped out of our memory through some unknown technology.
There’s only one image that’s incongruous with the others:
For the sake of de-cluttering my cluttered home, I thought I’d put out this last clarion call to more distant relatives and the winds of the Internet to see if I can find out their identities and deliver the photos to the appropriate hands.
Any clues? Theories? Face identification experts?
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