I think part of the reason I stopped writing for awhile is because once I start, it kind of doesn't stop. It's like the second I give permission for my fingers to type, the little writer's station in my brain drinks ten red bulls and declares it's time to party all night.
I can't wash dishes without the urge to write popping up. I can't toast a bagel or fold socks or wash my hair without the linguistic rave showing up, glow sticks in hand.
My muse is stubborn and listens to music on full blast, with the windows down.
The dam has been busted wide open (shout out to Braedon for teaching me the difference between a dam and a levee this week!) and I have no choice but to ride the waves.
Sooo, when this morning, while slicing an apple and scooping SunButter, a super random, but increasingly important, memory crash landed into my heart, I knew I had to share.
In 1999 I went to see a photography exhibit at The University of Connecticut all about Romanian orphanages. Each image was at least two feet wide, black and white, and so filled with meaning and emotion it was impossible not to feel dizzy.
Really good art does that, I think. It throws off the equilibrium, for better or for worse.
I will never forget standing there, my heart pounding, staring at this one frame in particular. There was a little girl, maybe 4 years old, gripping the bars of a tiny (I mean super small, like, she couldn't stretch her legs) wooden crib so hard her knuckles were white. She had visible lice in her knotted hair, and the corners of her mouth were cracked and blood dusted. Thomas kept telling me it was time to go, that the museum would close soon, but I couldn't move. I swear to you, it felt like her and I were having eye contact, even though it was only a piece of paper hanging, temporarily, on a plaster wall.
On our walk back to the dorms, I feverishly told Thomas I would do that someday. Someday, I would travel to foreign lands to save the world, my camera in hand. I'd take pictures that people couldn't turn away from. I'd tell the stories of the people who were voice-less and marginalized and invisible. It felt SO right and on that night there was not a single doubt in my mind that someday it would all be true. I could smell the developer on my hands. I could feel the backpack pulling down on my weathered shoulders as I marched bravely through back alley brothels.
And here's the thing we all know: That is not what happened. But it kind of did and this is what I'm getting at.
I got pregnant my Junior year in college and everything shifted. I knew I still wanted to make a difference in the world and create work that held meaning, but I let go of the original details of getting there.
I still won't travel because I want to be here to help Lily put on her sunscreen before swim lessons and show Braedon the right way to compose a thesis statement when he's struggling with his homework. I want to read books each night in bed all together and hold their hands when the tears fall.
I have yet to visit a war-torn city, and to be honest I can barely watch the weather on the news without having a mild anxiety attack, but, I do what I can with what I have.
What I have is a wedding and portrait photography business in Austin, TX and New England. But I hope, with all of my might, that what I am doing with it all, is more than just pretty pictures.
Your wedding is not a Ugandan food bank, but it is filled with resilient survival stories and truths wrapped in grace. I can't help but feel these things when I'm shooting. The miracles all around. And walking into the Colorado River hand in hand is not the same as saving the life of a Mongolian monk, but I promise you, my life is saved every single time I step foot into that water; no exception.
And I guess what I'm getting at, is, my images might not tell the catastrophic news of the world that I once hoped they would, but it is my most sincere desire that they do share the earth-shattering news of the human heart.
One beat at a time.