Could I say it’s been 16 years and I hardly think of you anymore? Could I say I’ve forgotten so many of the sad details of your life that helped to paint my own in such vividly dark colors? Could I say I’ve forgiven you for robbing me of a life without a father, the opportunity to open my heart to you and spill 16 years of pain, now doubled, the sudden way you changed and redefined my life, or the way you didn’t say goodbye?
The land moves easily here
And my fingers sway in alliance
As they travel north and linger
On the rim of the hollow of your eye
So what now? As I was shooting this intimate set last weekend and scrunching my face up in disapproval at each glance of every image, I thought to myself “Maybe this is it for my self-portrait work. Maybe it was a good run but I’m getting old and less thrilled at my appearance and maybe it’s time to retire as my own model.” And now especially, with a lack of a good spot for photos, the incentive to give this side of my work a break is quite high.
What can you tell me now that you couldn’t one year ago? Could you tell me how your reflection in the mirror has changed with such fervent subtlety that you hardly recognize the person you once were? Could you describe to me the palpable feeling of the shattering of such long-held presumptions of yourself? Could you tell me how fucking beautiful the silencing of such familiar doubts in your head can be? Could you tell me how your smile is an accessory you rarely leave home without?
It’s probably obvious, based on my usual subject matter, that family photography is not my forte. I sometimes make exceptions for those I’ve shot previously or anyone close to me in my life but even then, I tend to have a “Thanks for asking but that’s not my specialty” ready to go in my arsenal of responses to the “Won’t you take pictures of my family?” question, just in case.
I realized recently, that I’ve been steadily re-falling in love with him over the last six months that he’s been here. That’s a weird feeling: thinking you know and love someone so unconditionally and wholly but realizing there’s so much more to this person that you couldn’t possibly fall in love with before he was able to stand half a foot in front of you and put his arms around you while whispering “God, you’re beautiful and shit, do I love you so much.” I’ve been fortunate enough to fall in love with him twice. Did you know that was possible? I sure as shit didn’t. It’s an unearthly and dreamlike experience.
Blanket me with the soft shroud of the setting sun’s fiery mantle of clouds before I get too lost in the cold dark of the universe, before the moon soothes me to sleep with its stories of brave explorers who long ago hovered sweetly above its lonely ground, before my fingers become raw with lucid memories of the earth’s thorny skin.
It was 2010 and I had traveled to New York City, just to see it, for the very first time in my life. It was endless and overwhelming in its sheer enormity. I remember wondering how the land hadn’t sunk straight into the ocean from the weight of all the unevenly placed buildings and frenzied people scurrying in and out of them, oblivious to their doomed and drowning fates.
You would be 54 today, Dad. And I can hardly fathom it. Sometimes, it feels like the only language I know is time and we commune in years. I can still remember when we’d speak in days and hours and minutes, but it’s been a while now, for both of us.
“Our hearts beat so loud the neighbours think we’re fucking when I’m just trying to find the nerve to touch your face.” —Andrea Gibson
“It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all.”