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The photographs of my life huddle together in the darkness, secure in a bedroom cabinet. They now lead quiet lives, disturbed only occasionally. They once brought only pleasure to me and upon inspection, wonder. Now going through them brings a quotient of sadness too. The scale began to tip about 10 or 15 years ago. Their nearby presence exerts an energy that often tempts me to pay them a visit, but one that I usually resist. It’s a bottomless journey, that once begun leads down a road that’s too nostalgic. It invariably leads to sad emotions that I’d prefer to not indulge. It does show a rich lifetime of family times, travel, holidays and joyful events. The photos allow me to visit people who were once an important part of my life, now no longer available for one reason or another or sometimes for no reason I can state.  They just faded away.

Were my eyebrows really once that full and dark? Gazing at a photo of myself holding my infant children in my arms, I can still feel my daughter’s softness and inhale her sweet baby scent. Those sacred pleasures vanished too quickly. Pangs of times passed too quickly and unconsciously.  Another photo yields a glance of smiling faces at a school graduation. That was long ago, when there were more beginnings and a door closed meant that another door would soon be opening.

home from college, visiting my Dad

Yesterday, I uncovered a long-lost photo of my mother in her 20’s with a man other than my father. She and her gentleman friend looked very happy. I remembered her telling me many years ago that this man was her boyfriend before she met my father. They were close to engagement. And then they weren’t. The road not taken, but still present in my stash of snapshots. Does the gentleman still have a photo of my mom that his children puzzle over?

There are so many photos! My short-term attempts at organization have always run out of steam. I can never throw out enough of them to even make a small dent in their number.  Now they lay, slightly deteriorating by the day, in boxes, albums, and stacks. They give testament to a life and youth gone by. They recall young children, departed relatives, exciting trips to Europe and Japan, important birthdays, a long-lost pet. I want to bring them to life, if only for a brief visit.

The gang in Brooklyn on Halloween Eve, many moons ago!


A gorgeous early summer day near Stockholm.

I almost gasp when looking at photos of a long-ago party at my house, celebrating the visit of Doug Elkins Dance Company in 1998. Everyone was sooo young and so drunk.

Just Married, saying goodbye to parents as we head out for the honeymoon.  1963!


ranch 2000

New Year’s Eve 1999

I found a photo of my mother with her arms around two of my daughters, probably taken 40 years ago. They all looked relaxed and happy. This photo brought me joy because my mother hated to have her picture taken, consequently, I have few photos of her where she seems happy and looks the way I want to remember her. She died of Alzheimer’s so my last memories of her are painful to recall. This photo helped me make her real and healthy again. The image is now on my desk and in my heart.


My favorite look (for many years)

Thousands of digital photos sit right under my fingertips at my computer’s keyboard. They’re so easily accessible, and visited more frequently. They’re available for immediate recall and better organized.  I imagine that my grandchildren will have no boxes of photos to store.

Once again there came the time to put these memory capsules back in their cupboard.  After writing about them this time, I lovingly put them away, and even managed to feel happy.


meeting the final grandchild!

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Ann starck says:

    I just indulged in a massive re-visit/re-organize of old photos, journals, mementos. It started as an attempt to delete anything from journal entries written in times of dissatisfaction that Terry might come across after Inwas gone & be terribly hurt by. Turned into an extended time of reading letters to him, discovering how many of the events in them we’d forgotten, & sending off some packets to friends & relatives. Still have that editing to do AND I got things sorted into decades so I can access them in bits rather than the whole overwhelming mass. Will I ever?

  • Susan Ward says:

    Just lovely!

  • A. Walstad says:

    Beautiful! But, you had me dying laughing on the United Airlies call. I have been there too many times. Keep entertaining us! Terrific! Xo. A.

  • Mark dendy says:

    So rich. What an elegant beauty you were/are. A classic look Captured in time. I’ve been meditating lately on impermanence. Old photos remind us of that. It all passes so quickly. Thanks for these gems. These words and these images. What a gift to receive them regularly. Brightens the day and makes life sweeter. XO Mark

  • devapnek says:

    Judi, I guess it’s a universal issue, but one that isn’t easily dismissed! It was difficult to choose among all the faces that looked back at me!

  • Judi Miller Wallner says:

    Oh Dianne, this is a jewel…a jewel box of faces (love the one of your Dad, you and Danny and well all of them) I noticed how much your all your girls, young and old, look like your Mom. I completely identified about the mass of pictures…I put most of mine in those albums with the adhesive pages (I’m a Virgo, don’t forget). When you try to take a photo out you’re doomed to shred it! I just found a company, iMemories. You send your pictures in and they put them on CD’s etc. Now all I need is time to do it! You inspire me to get going.

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