An image can evoke different feelings in different people.
Every human being is a collection of different experiences. An image of a place, say a children’s park, evokes different feelings to each person according to their own experiences.
It wasn’t until I began journaling, jotting down memories from when I was a child living in Mexico, that I noticed something interesting. I noticed that the majority of the pictures I took during my various trips back to Mexico are of places in the Historic Downtown of San Luis Potosi; the city where I was born and raised before my family and I migrated to the U.S.
Although I haven’t been able to go back and visit Mexico as much as I would like, the few trips I have been able to make always led me back to the Historic Downtown. I realized that I always made it a point to go to this particular place in San Luis Potosi to take pictures of the area. These particular photos were taken in 2000, a trip I made when I was 19 years old. While looking at these photographs, I wondered why a 19-year-old would want to take pictures of historic sites when there are other more important things while on travel. Looking back, I feel that a typical teenager would not be interested in pictures of cathedrals, museums, theaters and such places. Teenagers would rather spend time with friends, taking pictures of their time together and other events such as parties, but not of historic sites, right?
In the process of writing about these photos I asked myself this question: why did I take pictures of all these places? Using writing, the photos, and dreams, God gave me the answer; I used to live near all these places! This was a fact that I had forgotten…
These are the places my mom, a single mother at the time, would take us to when she had half-days off from work. In those days my mom worked a lot. We walked along the Historic Downtown some afternoons, which on occasions turned to evenings. I now recall spending many afternoons and Sundays prancing around these unforgettable places. This is why, subconsciously at least, they became special to me.
These two photos brought back a fond memory of a Sunday afternoon with my mom and younger sister.
“We were strolling around the Historic Downtown – the folkloric music that played every Sunday around the plazas was typical of those days in San Luis Potosi. Back then, Sundays were special days, when families took the time to spend it together. Everyone took their children to the plazas and bought them cotton candy and came to watch the various live cultural shows that took place after morning mass. Older people spent their days sitting on the benches, watching people pass by or spending time in the afternoons. The joyous laughter of children at play would touch the hearts of older folks, bringing in turn a childish smile to their faces; as if they were reliving their childhood memories through the children’s plays.
Some people would come to sit and feed uncooked rice to the doves. The image of twenty or thirty black, beige, and brown doves surrounding a bench crowding around the person feeding them, became a pleasurable memory forever etched in my mind.
In one of those Sunday afternoons, my mother, sister and I walked by one of those people feeding the doves. At the time, he was surrounded in what looked like a living blanket of feathers. My little sister cheerfully ran towards the gathered doves wanting to catch them. She tried holding on to as many as she could, scaring the poor doves in the process, causing them to fly away. My mom and I just smiled at each other”
I now know these are the happy moments I had to leave behind because there was no room left in my suitcase. Rediscovering these lost memories connected me to my place of origin, reminding me that no matter where I go or how far I travel, San Luis Potosi is just a photograph and a memory away.