I was given my first camera at sixteen. I lived in Greece where I was born. It was a 35 mm Nikon FG. I still have it. I remember when I first held it in my hands – filled with anticipation and excitement.
A good friend of mine was a professional and passionate photographer. He took me under his wing, taught me how to use my camera, and helped me develop a different kind of vision.
On a lazy Sunday afternoon we went downtown Athens, cameras on hand. We walked around and got lost in side streets and neighborhoods I hadn’t known existed. I began to look around me with a different eye and pay close attention to the light, texture, color and character of a scene.
What used to go unnoticed before or taken for granted, came into focus. As I lingered, through the lens, I noticed nuances and details I had never noticed before. Nothing could be taken for granted. Each moment that I captured on film, would never be repeated in the same exact way. There was magic everywhere.
It’s raining pretty heavily, puddles of water already forming on the sidewalk. I’m at our local coffee shop, a cup of hot coffee and a morning glory muffin next to me. There’s the steady hum of the fans above, the chatter of a handful of people ordering coffee and joking with the owner, light jazz coming through the speakers.
On my way here, I drove by the post office to mail a letter and decided to circle back by the Middle School. The school is in session and the streets are quiet. I drove by slowly, looking at the school when it hit me.
My daughters are in High School now. Gone are the days when I used to drive by the Middle School, thinking of them, wondering what class they were in and sending them smiles. Sometimes, I’d walk in the building for committee meetings or to help with this and that. I used to see them in the corridors on their way to class and they’d smile or stop to say hello but . . . no PDA . . . please!
All this went through my mind at the speed of lighting. I felt tears coming. I let them come, first time since the girls started High School.
August was a whirlwind. We survived Irene and the four-day power shortage, went away for a four-day vacation and came back to more rain! The floods that ensued caused the first school closing of the season All that while trying to adjust to a new schedule, a whole new set of demands and expectations, preparing for a workshop I was giving, and trying to orchestrate home repairs and renovations. There has been no time to stop and reflect.
This is how I tend to be and I suspect that’s how it is for many of you; at the moment of a crisis or transition, I tend to brace and dive in. I do what I have to do, putting one foot in front of the other and making sure everyone is taken care of. Eventually the “storm” passes, the initial impact is softened, and the craziness becomes a distant memory. I find myself alone and quiet, settled into the new rhythm and ready to be with myself.
That’s when whatever emotions were kept at bay, so I could function, often come to the surface; demanding to be dealt with. Today I finally felt the impact of having my daughters, my babies no-more, entering a new phase. I often joke that with twins, there is no dress rehearsal. No previous experience to fall back to.
Our relationship is strong and loving, yet things have also changed. For as much as they love and respect me, they’re establishing boundaries and flexing their muscles. As a constant presence in their life, I’m here to rebel against and run to, often, at the same time. Confusing, to say the least, for all of us.
I have to constantly try and recall what it meant to be fifteen . . . while reminding myself that they’re not me! Their temperaments and individual traits may remind me of myself or my husband but they’re not us. They’re unique individuals.
Today I’m sitting at our local coffee shop, my coffee cup empty and my muffin indulged. I’ll have brownies for them when I get home. They’ll be really happy after a long day at school and field hockey practice. They’ll give me a big smile and a hug before they grab the bag from my hands. For a brief moment they’ll regress back to being two kids with chocolate all over their mouths and a huge grin of utter satisfaction.