My father is a writer. I know most of my few hundred followers don’t know me personally, so this is probably news to you. His life story is one worth listening to (and it’s one I still get to learn about all the time), but one of my favorite parts involves his path through college. Originally sent off to become a doctor, a few classes into a semester an attentive chemistry teacher aptly pointed out that he was probably destined for something other than science. His heart had never been invested in the pre-med dreams of others, so he turned to what he loved - writing. Years later, he walked away from Suffolk University with a degree in Creative Writing, met my mother (also a Suffolk graduate), went on to edit one of the best Mac magazines in the world and the rest is, as they say, history.
It’s a simple story, but one both of my parents happily remind me of often. Follow your dreams, pursue your passions, believe in yourself; tack on whatever tagline you’d like, it’s been exceedingly poignant for me this past year.
On my father’s blog, 135 f/2, he recently posted about his personal and photographic reflections on 2011:
“… this has been a year of beauty, profound happiness and deep sadness. It has also been a transitional year for my photography.”
He always seems to say it best and this year has been transitional in all kinds of ways, not just for our photography. Our family has been through an immense amount of pain and sadness this year, a lot of which has caused me to unintentionally place my life on hold. The first 6-8 months of 2011 were extremely difficult for me, emotionally and artistically, and my photography work wasn’t the only thing that suffered. After graduating from college, as I’ve talked about before, I lost a big part of who I was in the pursuit of “adulthood” and all that that entails. My familial connections, my friendships, my relationships, my art, my sanity, my heart; it all seemed to go missing while I sat at home with my Netflix-numbed thoughts.
Honestly, I’m not quite sure I can pinpoint exactly what happened to me in September to turn all this around, but I can definitely identify the chain of events that got me to the NOW of it all: Facilitating a more open and honest relationship with my mother. Finally taking photos with my friend Bree in the freezing cold of an Oregon fall and recovering the memory of why I wanted to be a photographer. Realizing that I have a brother who needs me to be there now, no matter what. Taking on enough responsibility at work, but remembering that as a 23-years-old, I still need some “stupid fun time.” Meeting Sam, one of the most peculiar and wonderful people I’ve gotten to know in a long time. Creating the Salmonberry Gun Club with him and Cameron. Learning when to blow off steam, but also knowing when to speak up for myself. Getting the courage to ask someone out on the date for the first time. Finally experiencing the holidays as an adult, despite the years of “adulthood” that the state claims I have under my belt. Circling back to the memories of bad relationships and facing the pain, instead of running away from it. Crying on my new home’s kitchen floor on the first night there and being ok with that. Cutting down my own Christmas trees in a rain-soaked forest with great people.
This picture, taken by one of my best friends Pearl, feels like a perfect representation of my year and all my dad was talking about. The day this was taken, Sam, Pearl, Cam and I were meant to go target shooting in the woods. As I was walking out the door, I got a text message from my dad informing me of my mother’s impending, almost-emergent surgery that had just been scheduled 4 days before Christmas. The ‘me’ of last year would have put on the brakes, called my friends and told them to go on without me, then take the rest of the afternoon to wallow in ice cream and cheesy 90’s romantic comedies. The ‘me’ of this year swallowed that sorrow and spent the day remembering why I got out of bed in the first place - to take my passions, share them with caring friends and let them help with my healing process through photography, gun powder and a lot of love. This was my transitional moment (or at least one of many) and I’m going to remember this day, despite it’s sadness, for it’s beauty and profound happiness.
I’m pretty thrilled to leave 2011 in the dust, not because it was a hard year, but because I’m so god damn excited to see what happens in 2012. The horizon isn’t completely clear and I’m preparing for a tough year, but I have the most outstanding arsenal of people behind me who are all waiting to see where I go next.
And I don’t plan to disappoint.