Last night I jolted awake from a dream in which I was running up the lawn of my old house. From birth until age five, I lived in Rockaway, NJ at 80 Hickory Place with my mom, my father and my sister. It was a little house for the four of us, but in my dream and in my early life, it was very big. I was running up the sloping lawn, and it turned vertical, and I started to fall. I didn’t jolt awake yet, though. The dream shifted and I was me now and I was visiting my old house and watching children run on the front lawn. It was Halloween. One little girl was dressed as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” and the details were exquisite. Her braids were neatly done and she held a basket with a stuffed Toto in one hand, and an orange pumpkin of candy in the other. Her mary jane shoes had been dipped in glue and then dipped in red glitter. They contrasted richly with the green grass. She was running with her braids flying and her eyes catching the light of the sun. She was laughing. She was me, Halloween of 1984 in real life, just months after my father passed away. I took her picture over and over and over. It was the best feeling I knew. She caught my eye and I jolted awake. I’m writing this in the early morning before I forget.
In real life on that Halloween, my mom took pictures of me, of course. But they weren’t the pictures I would have taken.
And I realized today after I woke up – the dream wasn’t real, but capturing moments like it is very much real.
I was telling a new friend the other day that photography is “my crutch.” I explained that writing is the deep, nitty gritty, soul-changing, life-shifting, and extremely annoying part of my life that will never go away. It rips me inside out. It challenges me and lifts me up and then crashes me to the ground. It’s not an easy life, but it never really is, is it? I told her that, on the other hand, photography is easier for me and more fun and that I have an advantage of being a blogger who takes pictures. If I can’t think of anything to write, I can just post cute pictures of Scarlet and call it a day, right?? Wrong.
If I can’t think of anything to write, I either post a short story or maybe a picture or two, or I just write to tell you that I can’t think of much to write. Often that leads into more writing and it shapes nicely into a legit blog post. Sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t really matter to me as long as I’m being truthful. The photography I do rips me inside out as well. It challenges me and lifts me up and then crashes me to the ground. Many of my anxiety dreams, and I much prefer the ones where I’m taking the exam for a test I didn’t study for (yes, still) or the ones in which my teeth are falling out, are that I’m seeing the most beautiful sights on this entire earth, or even beyond this earth. And while these northern lights, or shooting stars, or prehistoric animals are unfolding themselves before me, my camera won’t work. I can’t press the shutter button. The image before me disappears. I scream and then wake up. I run to my camera and make sure it’s not jammed.
These moments, these Scarlet moments, these life moments, I capture it all for much the same reason as I write. I can’t not. I need it to survive. Doesn’t that sound like it’s more than a crutch to you?
These moments with Scarlet are being directed by the two of us. She’s in charge of costume design, props and character development. I’m in charge of photography. And that’s about it.
We were on our way to the park and she decided that babydoll’s stroller should come along, without babydoll.
And I think you know how I feel about trips to the park with my kid. She fell from two steps and had a swollen bloody lip in these photos. It was the first time I’d seen her bleed since the dog bite ten months ago, which was strange because I had just been telling a friend the night before that I hadn’t seen her bleed in ten months. It was actually not difficult for me. These are normal kid things. What happened ten months ago was not. I know the distinction.
Then there’s time spent talking, laughing and playing with (super) cute friends.
Now that Scarlet likes to dress herself, there are some pretty mismatched and weather-inappropriate pairings. I love it, though.
Above, the jacket is 3-6 months. The t-shirt is 2T. The pants are 18 months.
Did I mention that Scarlet likes to play with the hose when Cassidy waters the garden? Even when it’s 60 degrees, and nowhere near sweltering, and she cries after being soaked. Then she runs into my arms and soaks me. But I never care because it makes for some fabulous picture-taking as we document this kid-essential part of life:
Do these moments look like more than a crutch to you? They do to me. They feel like more to me.