Learning to Remember

© Matthew Word Bain

Looking north-northeast at the level crossing on the road to the confluence where the Norfolk Southern line heads south-southwest to the freight exchange yard between Glasgow and the James River. The line of mountains to the right have drawn my eye from Buena Vista, where this line runs to join up with the Norfolk Southern through line in this area.

I have a memory of watching a train travel these tracks, the black engines emblazoned with the white stallion, moving slowly as I turned toward town from the highway, the road I was on intersecting with the path of the train just where the tracks disappear on the horizon in this image. The image in my mind is blurry like this one, faded, and warm with the heat of the summer day that bore it and associations with floating down the river with friends as I was on my way to do at the time.

Memories are precious to me, as I seem to have access to so few of them. Photographs not only record a moment in time; for me they also serve as a touchstone for memory itself. Learning to play with preserving examples of the way time and place intersect is also an exploration of my own relationship with memory itself. I’m only just now beginning to realize this, I think – if I have known it before, I have forgotten.