They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I believe that to be true, too.
I’ve valued pictures all of my life. I’m the kind of person who routinely runs out of space on his phone, due to the sheer number of pictures and videos that it holds, hanging on to my memories for me, one megabyte at a time. In fact, as I was getting ready to leave for San Francisco, I found boxes and boxes of developed pictures in my closet. Stacks and stacks of two-dimensional memories, piled atop one another, keeping each other company in their transparent bins. Pictures have always been a way for me to preserve my memories, and I’ve felt that I’ve needed them for that reason.
But today I felt something different.
We meandered our way up to the Golden Gate Bridge, switching from high to low gears as we wound our way up the steep paths. We reached the top of the hill, the international orange of the Golden Gate screaming against the pale blue sky and through the translucent fog of the bay. We stopped for a second, snapped a few pictures, and continued on our way.
The bridge was packed with people when we started, making it hard to advance on our bikes, but we continued onward, weaving our way in and out, until there was finally a clearing, and we began traveling faster through the people. We stopped at the first large support, situated just one-third of the way through the bridge, snapped a few more pictures, and continued again, the fog still hovering over us like a guardian. We reached the half-way point, where the thick curved cable that defines the silhouette of the bridge met the road, creating the iconic wide-U shape of the Golden Gate.
We stopped, I looked out at the city, patiently waiting across the bay and snapped yet a few more pictures to store for eternity. I turned to my left and looked upward. Our faces came towards each other, and his arms wrapped around the small of my back tightly. Our lips touched, and in that moment, all I could see were the black insides of my eyelids. No images dyed my retinas, and I took no photos. I saw nothing, but my heart fluttered in that fleeting moment, the winds from Pacific blowing gently across my face. There was no image for me to see, even though in that moment, I had hoped I could capture it forever and cling to it, just as the other pictures clung to the electronic memory in my phone. But the inability of capturing it made it all the more special.
In fact, never had a moment so void of color and image evoked more in me than that one did. While each one of the pictures I take are worth their thousand-word salary, the fleeting memories I make–the ones I cannot capture and the ones that can live only in my memory–those memories are worth more than a thousand words.
They’re worth a million.