Quarantine and Camera Roll Therapy: Treat Yourself to a Scroll

If you told me a little over a month ago that I was going to start an article draft with, “So I was on a Zoom call with friends a couple days ago,” I wouldn’t have known what to say. First of all, what’s Zoom, and second of all why aren’t we just hanging out in person? 

* Yikes … who’s gonna tell him? 

I never wanted it to be this way, but here we go: I was on a Zoom call with friends a couple of days ago.

After the initial “What’ve you been up to lately?” and collective “Not much,” I decided I’d share something with my friends that helps me whenever I’m feeling … less than inspired. 

It was my birthday that day, and I was feeling pretty *bleh* about this whole situation we’ve found ourselves in. For the most part, I can’t say I’ve had much to complain about – I’m still employed, I still have a safe place to stay and I’m still healthy. That’s all you really need in the context of a global pandemic, right?

Travel memory #1: Messing with cameras and snacking on peaches in Brussels, Belgium.
But just like everyone else, I want more than just the basics.

On that day, I missed the extra joys in life more than anything – especially those of the travel variety.

I wanted to be teleported instantly to a corner store in Boston on a hot summer day, laughing obnoxiously with a friend as we hunt for cheap prosecco and an orange juice mixer; to a random, graffitied street-side in Brussels, trying to get my crusty eyes to wake up and playing around with my camera settings as my friend captures the moment on hers; to a solo-trip moment in Shanghai, letting the street food I just bought go cold as I try to get the *perfect* (cheesy) pic of it against the city skyline. 

But let’s get real …

I’m by no means trying to sell the idea that my life before quarantine was some kind of supercut of travel stock photos pasted together – mornings exploring Brussels and afternoons snacking in China. I miss those things on a normal day when I’m hunched over my computer in the back corner of a cafe somewhere, Covid-19 or no Covid-19. But now that we’re quite literally unable to move as freely as we once were, I just miss those travel memories a little extra, ya know?

So what did I have to say to my friends on my birthday bash Zoom call extravaganza? I told them that when I’m feeling this way, my best remedy is to scroll through my camera roll.

Travel memory #2: Deliriously debating the best orange juice for mimosas at a corner store in Boston, Massachusetts. (the fact that anyone would ever choose pulp is beyond me).
If it sounds incredibly basic, it’s because it is.

But basic or not, I can’t be the only one that feels like they take an insane amount of pictures only to have over 90% of them sit dormant somewhere a thousand frames into my camera roll

As human beings, our brains are wordlessly complex systems with a myriad of strong suits. Storing and maintaining memories is not one of them. Generally speaking, you’re not going to remember a lot of your travel memories until they get triggered somehow. That’s doubly true for the little, at first-seemingly insignificant memories – which somehow always end of being the best kind. 

We have travel memory golden nuggets right at our fingertips.

In today’s day and age, we have the advantage of literally having thousands of high-quality memory triggers lined up in a row and sectioned off in an almost constant arms reach. 

So every now and then (and especially now), if I’m feeling nostalgic or down, I grab my phone and start scrolling through the memories I’ve made.

How cool is it that we get to do that?

Travel memory #3: Trying out new street food on a solo-trip in Shanghai, China. As a white boy eating 粽子 (Zong Zi) alone on the side of the street, I got a lot of looks.
Fair warning: going through camera roll pictures is an emotional roller coaster.

Some make me smile, some make me laugh, some make me tear up, some make me sad but not in the tear up kind of way, and some I just scroll past indifferently (I’m looking at you, photos of old receipts and accidental snaps when I was just trying to lower the volume). 

Most of them surprise me – they genuinely do, because I think, ‘How the hell could I forget this happened,’ or, ‘Wow, I haven’t talked to them in forever…” I can’t tell you the number of times a good scroll sess through my camera roll has got me to reach out to an old friend with some wacky photo of us doing god knows what.

Travel memory #4: New friends from study abroad take Pompeii, Italy. It's rare, but sometimes posed photos do the trick.
Do yourself a favor and start scrolling.

If you haven’t already started doing so halfway through this article, I recommend you do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a trip down camera roll lane. Surprise yourself with what you’ve done in your life so far: the good, the bad and the goofy. 

Now more than ever, I think we all need a little reminder that there was once, in fact, more to our lives than these four walls – and we lived the damn thing.

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