My ears are ringing. A girl’s crying in the bathroom. A boy in my class dances fluid-languid by another boy in my class who’s across a girl in my class who is tall and wears crop tops. I scan the disco-ball lit dance floor for what’s ‘in’: short tight mini-skirts that hike up your belly paired with black x-ed tops that your dyed hair can flow over. I wish my hair were long again so I could hide behind it.
Behind the lens and under disco lights, being a photographer lets me observe. Observe, record, document. It’s how I both connect and disconnect, like being a third party in my own reality. It can be interesting, toeing this social middle-ground. Here, I’m simultaneously a participant and an observer. I am a passive agent, an active recorder. An authority, a prop: the photographer.
Hopping from the East to the South draws each region into sharp contrast. Against the tall and narrow East, the South seems wider. Twangy recorded voicemails, the norm, strike me as peculiar (“hah-lo, yoo’ve reached–“) Cityscapes turn to landscapes and steel structures melt to lake water. Welcome home, where it’s hotter, quieter, sunnier, brighter, lazier, slower, flatter and bigger.
Wal-Mart might have lost my first roll of disposable film, but at least they didn’t lose my second. I’m still a little miffed about them (or FujiFilm) losing the first; I’d carried it around for a year, documenting my summer in China, vacation in the Bahamas, life in Philadelphia, etc. But I’ll look on the bright side: hey, they didn’t lose this second roll.
The photos turned out surprisingly well–it can be pretty hit-or-miss when it comes to film. Unlike digital, I’ll have no idea how disposable photos will turned out ’til they’ve been sent off, processed, developed and printed. Sometimes a shot of the living room turns out as washed-out black grain. Other times, a shot of a sneaker turns out to be weirdly artsy. It’s fun. It’s experimental. Generally, though, I’d say you can’t go wrong with landscape film.
Up until yesterday, when I got the photos, I’d forgotten that I’d carried my camera from one city to another. It’s interesting seeing images of the East juxtaposed with those of the South, watching them go from being gritty and overcast to saturated in blue.
Graphite sketch of film icon Audrey Hepburn.
I’ll tell you not to worry
That we’re more than the sum of our fragmented pasts
SOFT and blurred and strange like urban carbon decay. i remember
- that year I skipped the haunted house to instead count lonely days
- and periods of my life measured by eyeliner type (from chalky to waxy to dark and smudgy)
- on bad nights I’d tally them up on a sticky note by the light switch that stood by a doodle of a pink cat with an arched back with a perplexed face that asked: why so sad?
- that my project looked happier than i felt and photos belied my true sentiments and only what i wrote was honest
- and the things i painted were honest, too, like the black poster-size painting of what loneliness felt like even though I was surrounded by scathing, laughing, faces, faceless faces I’d forget as soon as I turned away
- it felt like it’d be forever before I ever returned, that the walls were white and it’d be the last night (but not for long)
- I wished to move forward. I wished to leave. I asked: am I unhappy in the present because I live in the future, or do I live in the future because I am unhappy in the present?
- both. the present was shitty in the most pleasant way possible, and looking forward was escapism.
in retrospect, i had something (many things) to look forward to, and it’s here and it’s now. god, i know it’s cliche, but if only i could pause life right now, keep things just as they are….life, stay still. you are good, better than good, fingers-crossed things won’t change.
The other day I sat in a hot car for too long, maybe five hours, and by the end of those five hours felt a sort of exhausted bitterness wash over me- like my body was drained and my arms were heavy and I was irritated, irritated, irritated. I wondered for a moment why it felt so familiar. And then I remembered that that was how HS had felt like. Every day, by 3:45 PM, when I was bored out of my mind, sedentary as a sequestered squirrel, I’d feel that same five-hour-long-trapped-in-a-car heaviness. But now I can let my hair down and sprint across fields and speed across highways and go to the bathroom without raising my goddamn hand. I feel free in the simplest of ways.