I bought my first cell phone in 2005 when I traveled to Europe for a year; altogether I've owned three phones in the past ten years, including the Dumbphone. The Dumbphone is a flip phone from 2011. It takes calls and makes calls and I have voicemail. I can receive and send texts (keyed in the old fashioned way because there is no keyboard. I don't like texting anymore than I like phones). It's scratched and battered and most recently, my water bottle spilled all over it. I took the battery out and dried it overnight, and lo, the Dumbphone recovered to ring another day.
After the Dumbphone's crisis, however, I decided I should copy whatever media are on it. The Dumbphone has a camera that is about as impressive as its other features, but I have taken a few photos over the years. I actually was able to locate the cable that connects it to my computer, and managed to copy the pictures and one video.
Among the photos were some that gave me unsettling deja vu. I rarely think much about these photos, or consider them of much value. But when I actually looked at them full size, I was surprised by the intense meaning some of them hold.
I give you: Selections from the DumbPhone's gallery.
I wish I could attribute this piece of art properly (if anyone does know the correct name or the artist's name, please let me know.) All I can tell you from memory is that it's a sculpture in the Detroit Institute of Art, and the name is something like Spirit of the Dance. A naked man dances with a tambourine (I wasn't able to fit all of him into the frame). He exudes joy and exalts the physical body.
I took this photo on December 27th, 2011. Mr. Turtle and I were in Michigan visiting my in-laws. We had passed Christmas day and Boxing day (also my birthday) with my MIL and now we were spending a couple of days with my BIL in Detroit, where he had just bought a house. The visit to the Institute of Art was one of tourist activities we did.
At that time Mr. Turtle and I had been TTC for about 4 months, and it was at the point where I was wondering "what else can we do to make this work." I forget if we had made any special efforts that particular month. I had purchased the Ova.cue fertility monitor and packed it, but hadn't used it yet. I hoped it would turn out to be waste of money. I really, really, really wanted to be pregnant that Christmas. Probably because of the sentimentality of the holidays, and because we'd been married a year and a half, and because we'd been trying for a few months and dammit, it was time. And probably because of an uneasy feeling that if I wasn't pregnant soon, it might mean something was wrong. I'd been charting and based on my charts so far, the Period was a couple of days late. I woke up full of optimism on the morning of the 27th - and there was the Period.
That day was the first time I was very disappointed that I wasn't pregnant. And on top of that it was an awful period. I felt like a deflated balloon, except I didn't because I was so bloated. All day I was in pain with the cramps. Despite that, I did enjoy the Institute of Art. It gave me plenty to focus on outside of myself, so while I was still unhappy and uncomfortable, I was at least distracted. What I couldn't do was be social. Most of the time I left the rest of the family behind and wandered in the galleries on my own. I didn't want to stand still for any reason. In those wanderings I found the Spirit of the Dance and immediately related to him. I love dancing and tambourines, so he embodies physical ecstasy for me. Although I remember this day so vividly, from the plaid shirt and jeans I was wearing to the heavy disappointment in my core, the image transcends all of it. And until a few months ago, he was the background image of the DumbPhone. Every time I looked at it I saw the Spirit of the Dance.
You're probably wondering: what the heck is that?!
The last week of January 2014 our house was burgled. This happened after a very stressful and emotional couple of weeks where our IVF cycle was cancelled and we were told that further fresh IVF treatments were pointless. I walked into the house after work and found it a mess and most of our valuables gone. Even worse than the loss of our possessions was the sense of invasion. I don't think much about the thefts anymore but the fear of a stranger coming into my space and threatening me still comes back from time to time.
Pictured above is what was our music room. I'm not sure when I took this photo, but I think a couple of days after the burglary. In the background is a music stand, a chair, my snare drum, and my euphonium on a small table. In the foreground the vacuum cleaner hose and a couple of instrument cases, I think. None of our musical instruments were stolen, although they were the single most valuable items in the house: too large and difficult to turn into cash, I imagine. However, my euphonium was in a backpack case and that was stolen; I assume to carry away the rest of the stolen goods.
There was one thing I found odd. Everywhere else in the house, items were knocked over, thrown about, broken. The one exception was here: after taking it out of the case, someone placed my euphonium carefully on a table, much like it is above. In contrast with everything else, this gesture seemed out of place, almost respectful. When the policeman came to do the report with us, he dismissed the burglars as the "scum of the earth." Almost everything I know and feel inclines me to agree, but because of this gesture at least one of them seems more human. If anything that makes the whole event more disturbing.
I took this photo from my hospital bed a few hours after AJ was born. One of my birth fantasies was to have a picture of the sunrise on the day she was born. However, the photo didn't look very impressive on my phone screen so I never did anything else with it. Yet when I look at it I feel much that takes me back to that moment. I remember feeling like there was so much to do and learn after she was born: I was exhausted but who had time for that? I was served breakfast at about 6:30am and didn't believe I actually wanted to eat, but I did. I remember thinking I would never have time to sleep again, although I did - eventually.
This photo has other little details that I didn't even think of capturing at the time. The glider barely visible on the left was where Mr. Turtle sat most of the time and cuddled with AJ. The papers sitting on the window ledge are the birth registration documents. On one of these we later wrote AJ's name - but when this photo was taken she was not yet named. The ziplock bag has the warm socks I brought for labour but never used. The cup probably has ice water that was partly drunk and set aside. Probably the most significant object for me is the pink plastic bin on the ledge. This has the breast shields and tubing that were meant for the mechanical breast pump. When AJ had one low blood sugar reading, the medical staff immediately recommended formula supplementation and the nurses brought in the breast pump in case I had to pump. But the pump was never used. AJ learned to nurse effectively, her blood sugar readings never fell again, and I was filled with confidence that I could indeed feed and care for this tiny newborn life.
So there you go. Three ghosts from the past, thanks to the fact I didn't have a decent camera at the time. They aren't even good photos. Yet if the purpose of a picture is to capture a memory, these do it better than many prettier ones. I'll be keeping them.
And this is the DumbPhone's current background image.