Photography is beautiful.
When I go back and look at old photographs, whether it be on my phone or old film prints that my mom has boxed away at home, they hit me with a strong sense of nostalgia – and that is something powerful. To immortalize moments with only light – memories that play ad infinitum as if they were a dream that once was, but never will be again.
And not just nostalgia, but maybe I want to be sparked by a sense of wonder, something magical.
To see the ocean that I could not swim in because I do not have an ocean to swim in. To see the Eiffel Tower I want to climb because I do not live in Paris, where they do have the Eiffel Tower to climb. To see a whale, where one would not fit in my living room.
To look at pictures of my cousin that once hugged us, laughed with us, cried with us…
Photography is a powerful tool, and I can’t think of a life without the ability to reach into a magical device that lets us dive into the past like an enchanted mirror. For this reason, I want to learn photography.
I’m not a very good photographer yet, and that will show. I encourage any photography enthusiast to call me out on things I should work on, things I should avoid. I want to share my first shots by featuring the people and places I respect the most as part of a journal. Just as the title implies, my first feature will be on my friend Erin. I invited her to a photoshoot of sorts and drove around downtown, picking some spots I thought would make good background noise. Below is my first journal entry to accompany these pictures.
It’ll be fun, I think – to get to know my friends and family a little more than I already do. This, all thanks to photography.
Growing up, I had always felt a sense of ingrained loneliness. To express how I felt any particular day would mean opening up to people whom I had dismissed as superficial friendships. Often I would try to express myself in an effort to connect with these people, but it never felt as if it amounted to anything. I would kid myself into pretending that these relationships were more than just strangers with common interests – and maybe it was me. Maybe I just wasn’t interesting enough to keep these friendships for longer than the year or so we would be stuck together at school, at work, or even at home. Someone once told me that it’s like I always have this wall up and I wouldn’t let anybody in – I think that’s accurate. Going into any friendship felt as if I were at the clearance aisle at the grocery store, always reading the expiration date because I knew that friendships never last. It was my own truth, anyway.
Anyway, it’s not so much of an interesting story, the way I met Erin. I worked at a hospital at the time that just so happened to be the place that Erin, fatefully almost, found herself working in the same department I had. My boss asked me to train her and well, that was that. We were co-workers, somehow trapped in a crossroads in life where we were still trying to figure out where we fit in – and what happiness was.
At the time, I was only interested in training Erin for a team I was leaving before I could move to another shift. There was no intention of comradery. She was initially stern, aloof almost – two qualities that I more than definitely embody, but it’s something incompatible between two people that want to find common ground, I think. So when it came to the point of conversation other than work, well, there wasn’t. I trained her as best I could, moved to my new shift, and that was that.
For a while, there was little contact between us. If anything, there was the occasional nod to the other via other co-workers that we shared mutual acquaintances with – it was work after all.
However, there’s something about Erin that just happens to switch when she is in her comfort zone and a lot of it has to do with her natural desire to want to meet people – to befriend them. She is good at this. Once she became comfortable enough at work, she started to extend an olive branch every time we had the chance to talk.
I found it strange at first that she would want me, of all people, to hang out with her outside of work. I mean, I’m a quiet, awkward, generally all-around weird dude. Literally compared to the people she normally hangs out with, I was like the strange foreign exchange student that also doubled as the kid in the back of the class that picks his boogers and eats glue for fun.
As someone who was relatively new to Indiana at the time and did not have many friends, it meant a lot. It really did.
In a funny way, it’s almost as if she adopted me as her younger brother. She taught me how to ride a bike, let me tag along with her on road trips out of state, took me with her whenever she wanted to go to the bar, was one of many people to teach me how to drive, introduced me to so many new friends and most importantly – she herself showed me what a true friend is capable of: that family isn’t just someone borne from blood, but someone that means so much more when you mutually understand that happiness…well, it’s something that you would go out of your way to make possible for the other.
Although I haven’t seen much of Erin these days, I can’t help but look back on all of the time we’ve spent together fondly. This isn’t to give the false impression that something went wrong, not at all. But as time moves forward and friendships evolve as the reality of life overcomes us, well, time becomes less available for those old memories to be relived. It’s the reality of friendship, of family, of time…
I don’t think Erin realizes how much she has impacted my life and how much she has inspired me. The way she connects people around her is almost magical – the way she manages to create lasting friendships with almost every person she meets. The way she lives her life with such a sense of freedom that any decision can be on a whim – it’s interesting. I can come up with a list of reasons why she is an incredible human being, but none with a sense of description that I can use to truly capture how she is capable of bringing color to a dull world around her.
I know she did mine.
Thank you for being my family, Erin.