Before What? - Kevin Frace

Before It's gone

21 JULY 2018

  The idea of starting a photo web site came to mind about a week ago. My current employer had just let about 20 people go. That was just a bit short of 1/2 of the people in the San Diego office. It wasn’t much of a surprise as there had been major changes in priorities over the last several months. I could see the shift and the evaporation of the work ahead. The company was heading in a new direction, and really just didn’t need my skills anymore. I didn’t loose my job on that day, but it was clear my future there was finite.

   The job market is good, and I’m sure I can find something else. I’ve always had a job continuously for over 24 years. The only exception is when I took 2 weeks off between leaving one company and beginning at the next. You could call it unemployment, but I remember it fondly as the only real 2 weeks of leave I’ve ever had. No email, no phone calls, no boss, and no tasks waiting for me when I returned to the office. In that time I really had a chance to think, relax and consider what I really want to do with my life. Before I acted on what I wanted, I started a new job and forgot about what I wanted. Silly, but life gets in the way of bigger plans.

   This time I want get back to what I want to achieve in life. I want to have a real meaning that goes with my name. I want my children to share with their children, something that I did after I’ve gone. Not just a memory, but something tangible that can be seen and felt. For me a thing like that arose a few years back. My mother unearthed a few photos of me from when I was 2 and about 4 years old. The first image arranged between my twin boys images, made us look like triplets. The second image was of me on a tricycle. The first image emblazoned on me the thought that my boys are just like me. I consider that with every issue or problem they face. My long forgotten childhood memories tell me their hidden emotions. I put on my kid gloves and quit controlling and fall to their level. I try to be a 9 year old with wisdom to share.

   Looking at the second photo of me on a tricycle is the greatest impact on me in decades. It’s not a great picture, and probably shot on a 110 Instamatic (Those were pretty awesome cameras in 1974). The picture of me is dominated by a huge smile. It is me in pure Joy. All the world is perfect for this child. He had everything he could ever want and was completely content. Then as you look around the picture you can see that the tricycle I’m riding is covered with scratches and rust, a long handed down, hand me down, or garage sale item. The clothes I’m wearing are all hand me downs from my older brother Warren, with the exception of the Donald Duck sweatshirt. I believe that is one of the only new pieces of clothing I had. In the background are the stairs to our mobile home (aka double wide trailer). The trailer home was located in the back lot of the Animal Hospital where my father worked. It was a few hundred yards from the railroad tracks, and also the Hunt’s tomato plant. (I can hear a train and smell the tomatoes cooking now).

   As I’ve lived my life, I’ve forgotten who I was. That photograph takes me back before everything. Before everything, there in my face is Joy. Why can I not see it in any other photos of me? I lost it somewhere. Somewhere between being a poor kid living in a trailer, and becoming a “successful” engineer, husband, and father I lost it. I’m going to change that and find it again. Yeah it sounds like a country song, and if you want to hear a good one try “The house that built me” by Miranda Lambert. You can go back to your house, but you can never go back home.

  So what was my point? A single photograph can capture everything that is important. It may take 44 years to figure it out, but take the picture. Before the moment is gone, capture it. So now you know what I’m working towards. I found my before photograph and etched it in my mind. Perhaps I can help you find yours. Together, lets provide them for our children.