I did as Aunt Betty asked and began giving the kaleidoscopes away. After the third or fourth scope left our home, I said to myself, Self, there must be a way to properly catalogue them so I can remember what they look like. Sure, I had been writing all the information down about the artists, the cost of the scopes, and tracking where my aunt presumably bought them (she spent her entire life as a music teacher in Wilmington, Delaware, and kept a cottage in Maine, so her purchases were along the American eastern seaboard), but I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to remember what they looked like on both the outside and inside.
I went to my room and found the camera my husband bought me while we were still dating. (He said it was my “promise ring”, signifying his promise to make a lifetime of memories with me.) I took the point-and-shoot camera in one hand and a scope in the other. I looked through the tiny viewfinder of the camera as I placed the tinier hole of the kaleidoscope in front of the lens. I pressed the button halfway down; the camera focused and I snapped a picture. And then I snapped another. And another. I was so excited to see the results that I filled up the 24 exposure film as quickly as I could, drove down to the 1 hour photo shop, and ran some errands while waiting to see the fruit of my not-so-labourious labour.
After paying the developer, I went straight into my car, shut the door, and tore into the envelope with great expectation. The excitement was all for not, however, as the pictures were, in a word, crap. (There’s a lot of crap on this journey, by the way.) The interior image was blurry, and only a small portion of the interior was even visible. The picture was mostly of the exterior of the camera, as well as our couch and floor. And not just one picture. All 24 frames were complete failures. I placed the photos back in the envelope, tossed the envelope in my photobox in the basement, and never thought about taking another picture of a kaleidoscope for another two years. I had other things on the go and wasn’t prepared to give this hobby the time and patience it required. If I ever find that first photo, I’ll be sure to post it. No doubt it’s in a moldy corner of a musty cardboard box in the bowels of our home. Until then, I’m including a photo of one of the first scopes I fashioned together with toilet roll tubes and hockey tape.