Register Saturday | September 24 | 2022

Scrapbook

Photos and text by Brendan George Ko

Friends from a distance, strangers from afar.

Encounters given choice, fewer and more joyous.

The couples; the singles; the families; the hotel room; the backyard; her car; their porch; this gap between two trees far enough for a hammock hang, an icebox, a fire, and the tide to slip underneath:

All are islands,

Strung together in a queer ensemble.

I spent my childhood looking towards the bright sun, blinding my eyes and holding still, trying to smile as my mother focused her Nikon FM2, getting the exposure just right before the relief of the shutter slap finally announced the torture was over. Later, my mother would print the image and carefully place it within the narrative of her scrapbooks. My two older sisters and father were the constant subjects of these many scrapbooks—filled with text and scraps and photographs of family road trips, our lives in the various places we lived and visited over the years. It wasn’t until I started revisiting these scrapbooks as an adult that I realized how much memory is held within their pages. My childhood suddenly came back to me with clarity, from that time I got a black eye wrestling my sister to that time my father was arrested for speeding. These details seemed to have slipped my mind over time, and I realized how important the practice of scrapbooking is for the sake of remembering and holding onto our stories. In 2014, I decided to carry on my mother’s tradition by creating my own scrapbooks each and every year. They document the couples, lovers, friends, family, dogs, cats and plants of the two homes I claim—Toronto and Wailuku. Memories woven together through the years.