I want to decorate my walls with photographs. Instead of pining over the decorated walls that I grew-up admiring, I decided to concretize the joy that I once knew in looking. My dining room already has a framed photograph of my son hanging and I’m thinking of adding others that I have had printed at Shutterfly.

This is one that I definitely want to include of my grandmother and her oldest son, my uncle Charles. The photographs of my grandmother and my uncle are interesting for me because I now realize that when I look at them, I’m looking at Kentucky and not Cleveland. My family did not make the move to the midwest until after World War II ended and after my twin Aunts, Sharon and Sheila, were born. When I talk to my son about these pictures as he gets older, that is something that I want to stress: place.

I haven’t yet figured out why it was so striking to me to realize that many of the photographs that I thought I saw weren’t fully perceived. There were details that I merely skipped over unaware. I do realize that one of the reasons why I kept going back to look at the photographs on those walls though was that looking was no simple, glancing act. I understood that there was a reason to keep looking and reflecting. This is something that I want to pass on to my son.

Miles is just beginning to learn to read the story in pictures. I am so taken by how willing he is to go beyond the words of his picture books and just invent a rudimentary scenario from the images. What I realize about family photographs is that that is the kind of work that they require–at least initially. The photographs on the walls of our homes are not typically underscored by captions. Although I think captions have their purpose, in this case, I continue to be entranced by the call to keep looking for the missed details.

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