Tangible

In the past few days, I’ve been going through June and July pictures. What I try to do is download everything off my camera each month and upload it to Kodak in a folder named for that month. I go through and edit them down, add some captions, and send an email to a list of friends and family who might want to see them (or who can just delete the email if they don’t). The last step, ideally, is ordering prints of all the photos and putting them in an album.

On that part, I’m about nine months behind.

I know it might sound archaic to actually get prints and assemble them in a real photo album, not a virtual one. But as much as I appreciate the easy access to pictures online (and the ability to just delete all the bad shots), I really love having a book of them in my hands to look through. Instead of firing up the computer and going to the folder of pictures of when Sara was born, for example, we can find the book, cuddle up on the couch together, and turn the pages. Call me a Luddite, but I still like that.

I’m the same way about books I read. I’m holding out as long as I can on e-readers. Again, it’s not that I don’t think they’re cool and handy and easy. I just like turning pages, being able to underline things or write notes in the margins (or see what the readers before me have written), slipping in a bookmark and being able to see when the book is closed how far into it I actually am. I find that satisfying. I don’t want to give it up.

I think (and I hope) there will always be a place for books (and magazines, and newspapers) that we hold in our hands. I like to sit on the train or subway and see what other people are reading — I’ve even had conversations with strangers about books. If they’re reading on a Kindle, you can’t tell. (One thing I adore about New York City is that subway riders don’t leave big, hardcover books at home — they tote them along in little shopping bags if need be.) When I’m lying on the couch or in bed with a book, the weight of it in my hands is comforting. When I read with my kids, they snuggle next to me, tuck themselves under my arms, and reach out to touch the book a lot. Sometimes pages get torn, and we have to tape them back together. The tape shows we’ve been there — we’ve read this, enjoyed it, had a reaction to it.

Tangible means “capable of being perceived, especially by the sense of touch.” I like that. Putting pictures and books on screens can take away our sense of touch, our physical connection to what we’re seeing and reading.

I’m not ready to let that happen. So I’m going to slowly catch up on ordering my prints and gently slide them into the plastic sleeves of some pretty photo albums.

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