My photographs have created a timeline that I’m not even fully aware of


Arpita Das

January 30th, 2022, the day after my 2nd Science Olympiad Competition.

I seem to remember everything nowadays, except for the important stuff. For example, when to wake up or when certain assignments or assessments need to be completed. Regardless of what I can keep track of, I’ve come to realize there are certain tools that help me remember things better—the main one being pictures. 

Every picture that I have ever taken in my life has a story behind it, whether I know it or not. Some are just mere memories, others are important excursions, but most of them are life-changing experiences. What makes them special aren’t the memories enveloped within them, but rather the time period in which they are from because of the feelings of nostalgia that track behind them. When I look at them, it’s almost like being able to jump into a time machine. The photo acts as a portal to the exact moment in which the photo was taken. Although I cannot remember all of the pictures that I have ever taken, here are the ones that are personalized within my soul. 

April 4th, 2021 

What do you see when you look at this picture? To an outsider looking in, this may just look like a picture of a mocha chip frappuccino and a blueberry scone. But to me, those were my last ones, with my uncle at least. He had come on a Wednesday to work and wanted to embark on a mini outing with me and get us Starbucks. When we went through the drive-through and asked if I wanted a scone, I said no—he got me one anyway. We ended up driving to Ada Township and walking around the area, and it was so serene yet so chilly outside. 

May 27th, 2021

An Elongated pizza that I ate on the last day.

I was taking segment one of Driver’s training at Jungle Driving. From what I remember, it was three weeks long, in fact probably some of the longest weeks of my life. The first time I put my pedal to the metal, I learned that you never drive with your left foot. Those three weeks were memorable because we had Ra-Ra as our instructor. Most days I would fall asleep in his class, and his tests were very straightforward and manageable. There was even one time when I made a mistake while driving with him, and he told the whole class and they laughed at me. At the time I was embarrassed, but now I think it’s funny. 

Me and my friends at Ionia Fair.

July 23rd, 2021

It was Wednesday, and I had just started a new Netflix series called Dynasty, and my sister came and asked me if I wanted to go to the Ionia fair with a couple of friends. At the time, I was taking an online camp that ended around 2 pm, and when she asked me, I assumed that we were going Friday when in actuality we were going that same day; it was a fun surprise to experience. We spent so many hours at the fair, and I even went on my first roller coaster that spun upside down. When we left we grabbed a sticker to remember the experience, drove past a penitentiary, and came home smelling like a farm. 

Some are just mere memories, others are important excursions, but most of them are llife-changing experiences.

Chicago is a city that never fails to be beautiful.

July 31st, 2021

We decided to go with our closest friends and spend the weekend in Chicago; it was really eventful, but oh, that trip was filled with too many emotions. It was so spontaneous; we went to Navy Pier, and it was fun being able to walk around town all night. It was a nice getaway from the normal routine of staying in all day during the summer. One night, we came back to the hotel and were heading to the lobby. My friends and I noticed a lot of girls running through the lobby destroying all the pillows and throwing them every which way. A guy even had a tiara on his head. It was late, and I wanted to go to bed, so I went to the hotel and took a nap. Meanwhile, the parents were having a bonfire and my friends were having fun in the gym, so they woke me up and, we all eventually decided to join the bonfire…at 2 in the morning. 

One of the best meals I’ve ever had probably because I remembered it.

August 22nd, 2021 

It was the first day before sophomore year started; I was petrified of going to school in person, and I didn’t know what to expect. Our family decided to go with some friends to some random beach that I forgot the name of, but we ate at this amazing restaurant and that was the meal I consumed. The beach was fun, but it was too short a life. We took so much time to drive there only to spend an estimate of around 20 – 30 minutes. But it was alright; I still got my perfect sunset photo during the time of day people like to call “golden hour.” 

What the ferry lights looked like at night.

October 2nd, 2021 

It was the weekend, and I vividly remember having to study for some sort of test. It was the first time I had ever really spent a birthday on water; we spent the entire night on a ferry. It was fun, but the ferry wouldn’t stop swaying left and right. The food was flavorsome per usual, and eventually, the party transitioned into a dance party at night. The afterparty resulted in leaving the boat and attending a friend’s house with mediocre cake. 

Candy with LED Lights in the background to make the photo authentic.

October 30th, 2021 

Halloween was different this year, but it was still noteworthy. I went trick-or-treating in my old neighborhood dressed as a devil. It was fun, but I didn’t carve pumpkins. Instead, I painted them; it’s more creative this way and requires a lot less sweat. At the time, I had LED lights in my room which I would change based on my emotions, but because they don’t work anymore, they’re just immune decorations that line the four corners of my room. I find it humorous, but I would be lying if I said a little part of me still wished the lights still worked. 

December 17th, 2021 

For those of you who have read my stories, I’m sure you recognize this picture. This was a couple of days after I had gotten some shots in my arm. My arm wasn’t in pain, but the day before I had shots, we met the bride of the wedding we were attending where I also wore this dress. The first time this dress had its outing was in the summer of 2016 at a reception that my sister and I attended in India; she was the first one to wear it, and I can finally comprehend why she adored it so much. 

The Christmas tree in Florida.

December 29th, 2021

We went on an exhilarating expedition to Miami Florida. Even though we’ve been to Florida countless times, traversing to this part of the country never gets old, despite how humid it gets. We had to drive so many hours to get to the places we wanted, but in the end, it was worth it. We got the best car rental possible, and it had the best AC. Our trip consisted of going to Key West, spending our Christmas there, parasailing, and even seeing chickens cross the road. My dad always jokes about opening his own farm, so when my mom saw the chicken cross she chuckled and said, “Ok we saw the chicken; we can go back now.” 

April 2nd, 2022 

This was the first time I had ever stayed in an Airbnb and went to Texas. What was even more ironic was that we had a friend who lived there but we couldn’t visit her; we were too far away. Regardless, this was one of the best trips of my life. Our Airbnb had two balconies, a kitchen, a game room, a TV, and even three floors, oh also including a loft. Our days consisted of blasting music on a golf cart, going to beaches where the sand was the road, and eating at restaurants where I almost lost my retainers. 

May 22, 2022 

This was the week I started sending out letters for teacher appreciation week. Today was the day I attended my friend’s graduation. I couldn’t have been more proud of her, and I hadn’t realized how popular she had become. This was the first graduation party I attended and it commemorated not one but actually two alumni that finished high school. 

We were having boba on a very sunny yet windy day.

June 9th, 2022

We spontaneously decided to get boba downtown. I texted my friend that same day after I finished a workout and my sister was working downtown, so we all got together and had some fun. We had a joyous time walking around town sticking together like three musketeers. 


A view of Canada from the beloved CN Tower.

July 3rd, 2022 

We went to visit Toronto again. It was so eventful, but the drive was so long. It was nice to cross the border, and we toured so many places. We walked everywhere, but seeing the musical fountain on the Fourth of July near Niagara Falls made it unforgettable. When I was an infant, I saw Niagara Falls but couldn’t recall its appearance, so this trip was almost like a buffer for my brain. We also took a ferry and got to see the falls from the inside. We looked silly with our ponchos, but it was nice not to be in the sweltering heat and experience the “maid of the mist.” 

July 8th, 2022

We had just come back from day one of a two-day ceremony celebrating the marriage of one of our closest friends. Although I’ve attended about four to five weddings within the span of 17 years, this ceremony by far was the most exhilarating. It was nice because we didn’t have to travel, and the thrill was spread out over the course of two days. 


The group I went to homecoming with.

October 16th, 2022 

This was an eventful night; it was halfway through the semester, and I was spending homecoming with a group that I was semi-close with. We showed up late for pictures and dinner reservations, and one of our friends made the wrong turn before showing up at the right location.  Dinner was eventful, but before we left, I had to run in heels to grab my leftovers, and sauce spilled all over my black cardigan. My hands were sticky, but it was worth it. 

Me and Heather hanging out by our Trunk or Treat Stand.

October 28th, 2022 

School was actually fun when I took this picture; it was Friday, but it felt like one of those game-day Fridays. I pretty much had no homework and went to trunk or treat to pass out candy for Kumon: the place I work at. I even ran into my fifth-grade teacher who was so ecstatic upon encountering me. She even said she recognized me by my “kind eyes” which made my entire week. 




A BeReal that we took.

November 16th, 2021

This was the first time I decided to actually hang out with a friend instead of just saying I’ll make plans and then not executing my plan. It’s a surprisingly normal thing to go with your friends to Starbucks and study after school. We’ve now made it a routine thing to do because there’s just something about getting together with a friend and studying in a coffee shop that makes it that much more anticipating to do. I don’t know if it’s the quality time or the background noise that makes it fun, but regardless, I get a lot more done when I’m doing it with someone else. 

Me in my hotel room on my birthday.

November 25th, 2022 

This photograph is also recognizable because I’ve used it before. It’s memorable because it was not only my birthday today, but also Black Friday and the day our school went to state championships. I was spending my day in Pittsburgh, and that day I only purchased one thing: an original pair of vans. We ate at Bravo because it was closed in Michigan, and our waiter was so courteous to us. 

December 16th, 2022 

The last day of exams couldn’t have been more of a trainwreck than I thought it would be. I was so tired and just so ready to go on break. Exams snuck up on me like a critter, but attending The Central Trend white elephant along with the Christmas music and gifts being passed around helped soften the blow and made that day end on a happier note. That same day, we attended a Christmas potluck where we played a bunch of silly table games and saw our friends mini-light up village and train tracks around their Christmas tree. 

Another BeReal that I took the Day of the Competition.

January 4th, 2023 

The new year was a fresh start for me; I was going in with a new perspective and outlook on life. This day was my first DECA competition, and I won an award. It was really fun and an intresting learning experience for me. I know what to do going forward and what to expect for our state conference coming up in March. 

January 12th, 2023 

This was my first ever Model United Nations conference ever. I couldn’t stop talking and thinking about this conference with my parents. I had been going on and on about it for at least a month. I was originally going to go on my first one in November, but I’m so glad that my first conference was at the University of Michigan because that college is so prestigious. Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe some of the feelings I experienced from this trip. It was funny, peaceful, interesting, educational, professional, and last but not least, remarkable, because of how much I was able to learn. 

Me working with other people on a Wednesday at Culver’s.

February 1st, 2023 

I’ve never really been that person to go out on the weekdays unless it was for something school or health-related, but being able to volunteer for hours provided me with three things: a chance to hang out with friends, gain NHS hours, and consume a meal outside of the home. All while having a fun time with my friends and even helping some of my friends with their DECA projects. 

Although these are only a selected quantity out of the hundreds of thousands of photos that I possess, my timeline is still unwritten. Yes, my past has already happened, and my present is currently in transit, my future is yet to be determined. Despite not knowing what my future will entail, one thing I can ensure is that the photos I take at any stage of my life will help build the timeline that is my life, and I am content with that.