In her book Words Under the Words, poet Naomi Shihab Nye writes of "the mystery of remembering." She tells of finding an old photo album with a picture of herself as a grinning child wearing a party dress and standing with her legs crossed. After the picture was taken, she remembers falling over and hitting her head. "I think of the invisible pictures between the pictures," Nye writes. "The gleam of particulars." If every picture tells a story, it's certainly not the whole story. And isn't that the way we like it? Don't we usually throw out the photos where we look fat or sleepy or too much like our true selves? We want to remember the good parts and fill in the gaps with the hazy and mysterious.
Like photo albums, scrapbooks present snippets of life, small pieces of much larger pictures. The "scraps" are gathered and saved--all in anticipation of the day they will fill the pages of their own book and tell their own story, albeit a rose-colored tale populated by only the smiling and laughing. "America Tell Your Story," the theme of the Great American Scrapbook Convention coming to Arlington this week, encourages the preservation of history and the documenting of stories grand and small--weddings, vacations, births, life, any event that can be recounted with ticket stubs and photographs, postcards and mementos.
Starting Thursday and continuing through Saturday, the Arlington Convention Center will play host to classes, workshops and other activities for scrapbook fanatics high on rubber cement and the joy of preserving memories. There will be vendor booths, door prizes and thousands of scrapbooking products. And for those willing to risk not only paper cuts and glue fumes but also 20 bucks, the convention offers late-night cropping parties where scrappers can share ideas, learn new tricks and gain inspiration--all of which should have convention-goers telling their stories for years to come.