Two Photos, Two Decades, One Salem

October 26, 2023 — My oldest daughter and I were in Salem the other night for a Halloween party. At one point, as we wandered the dark, blustery streets that had been freshly power-washed by a day’s worth of downpour, she wanted to get a photo of herself in front of the Salem Witch Museum. She hadn’t been to Salem at night since she was a small child and rightly dug the dramatic red glow of the museum’s front windows. She chose a spot across the street—on the edge of the common against a concrete post.

I immediately felt a strong sese of dejavu and nostalgia and ache. It only took me a few seconds to realize why. The first time I had ever visited Salem in my life, I had taken the exact same photo in the exact same spot. That visit would have been in October 2004, five years before her birth.

I told her about that random firing in my brain, and she asked if I still had the photo on me. Because my enter life is online, I was able to pull it up quickly from an OTIS post about the jaunt (although the jaunt was three years before I launched OTIS). She restrained herself from any comments on my beardless face and then mimicked my pose for her photo.

Now I have these two photos, taken nineteen years apart, set against the same old Salem.

Oh, and while it might appear that the main difference between the two photos is the time of day/night, the real difference is that mine was taken with a tripod, a digital camera, and an almost paralyzing amount of awkwardness and embarrassment since that was a pre-selfie world. Life used to be so hard.