Photographs

Some of my friends at Whakatane High School in 2000, I've managed to keep in touch with all but two of the girls in this photo. My friend Michelle is the blonde one to my left. 

Some of my friends at Whakatane High School in 2000, I've managed to keep in touch with all but two of the girls in this photo. My friend Michelle is the blonde one to my left. 

Looking through my old photo albums - some even had the developed film in the back pocket of the cover. Reminiscing at photos of my 16-year-old self: From high school photos, a school trip to France, to my Asian travels as an adult - a snapshot of life full of adventure. Like the time I was captain of the girls first XI cricket team (we only had one team by the way). Old friends from high school. The school ball I wore a twenty dollar dress and looked like a thirty year old. Ashes of my adolescence, memories I think of fondly.

As I prepare myself for another chapter in my life, tonight I’ve been feeling nostalgic about how I got here. Spurts of wanderlust. Countless photos of food, oh glorious food! The recycled haircuts - some actually varying degrees of ‘the bowl cut’. Growing older has its perks, and being able to laugh at those awkward moments from high school is certainly one of them.

Maybe we needed that space to grow up and
become better people to truly enrich each other’s lives
down the track.

There are faces in those photographs that I’m still friends with today - though we may not talk everyday, it’s nice to know they’ve had my back over the years. Our connections were never lost, just redirected until our paths needed to cross again. Maybe we needed that space to grow up and become better people to truly enrich each other’s lives down
the track.

Like Michelle, my best friend in high school. We met on the first day of high school, and it was her that convinced me to try out for the girls' soccer team. My family moved to Whakatane the summer before I started high school, and she was the first friend I made. Sure we were both shorties, yet she had blonde hair and blue eyes, while I had the stock standard Asian brownie features of dark hair and brown eyes.

Halfway through high school we started hanging out with other people, but kept in touch as we still played in the same soccer team. After high school we would run into each other now and then, but eventually lost touch. How does that even happen when live in the same town? This year I’m happy to say that we reconnected and I teach her daughter dance. Her daughter is a mini version of her, it’s pretty awesome. When I see her dance, it takes me back to when her Mum and I we were thirteen and shared something she loved with me, so I’m just returning the favour.

These days I spend most of my time behind the camera, but in the albums you can see me transform over the years. Dressing up for the work dos, sporting events, milestones, weddings - like the time I wore an apple green dress with a magenta cardigan. Somehow I made it work.

Beijing, China in 2007. I was all polka-dot and stripes everything back then....

Beijing, China in 2007. I was all polka-dot and stripes everything back then....

You know, it’s been ten years since I came back from a whirlwind five months travelling South-East Asia. This photo always makes me laugh. It was taken in Beijing during their week-long national holiday and my last week in China. My outfit could only be described as my best attempt at being a cultural chameleon - the only thing missing was something Hello Kitty.

Does every Asian girl go through a Hello Kitty phase?

In a time where we are bombarded by imagery overload online - it has been awesome to take my time to flick through the pages and trying to remember the names and stories that came with them. I did Instamessage a few of the photos to friends and they too have started looking through their own albums. What is it about photos from our childhood that makes us take to them like a baby to a blanket?

Maybe I’ll try printing photos again, OK not my gazillion food photos (Instagram can have those), but the ones I want to have conversations about. They say a picture paints a thousand words, I will settle for just a few if it’s with people I care about. Photographs capture but a split second of our lives, but that feeling, it stays with us for the longest time.

Ronna Grace Funtelar

A thirtyish storyteller, hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.