Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Photographer Who Forgot Her Camera

I did say life must go on.  But I never said at what frequency my blog posts would go on. Clearly, I haven't been able to muster up a blog post in a while. In a full month to be exact. Honestly, I have been too busy to sit in front of my screen. And in more truthfulness, I have been avoiding it altogether. Writing my signature, tongue-in-cheek life observations for which I have become wildly famous has seemed trivial and insulting to the real, serious stuff that has been the reality for my family. There is always some serious stuff in a family. Isn't that "stuff" what defines a family? For us, this is the biggest and the one that has effected us all. Top to bottom, youngest to oldest, we are all wearing the heavy cloak of loss. We all take off the cloak on occasion, lay it aside, and jump in to the new moment that stares us in the face, lighter maybe for a brief time. But the cloak comes back on.

And this is why I haven't blogged. When it comes to my blog, I have a compromised ability to keep my inner monologue....inner.

There have been many cloak-free moments in the last several weeks, most of them involving the boys. Thankfully, they provide diversion just by being. The past month has included the last days of the school year, the beginning of summer and all requisite festivities. We had field day, a field trip, an end of year picnic, and the now traditional beginning of summer tie-dye party. Oddly, I took no pictures of any of these events. Usually, I am armed with my camera and get all the good shots. I am usually "working" these events so much so that you would think I was a paid photographer rather than a PTA volunteer, a chaperone, a party host, a mom.

But this time instead of working these events, I attended. I was engaged. I hung out with my kids and their friends and mine. I enjoyed just being there like the rest, not worrying about getting shots of every major moment of these minor events. These minor events required my full attention. My camera sometimes steals my focus, making my view too narrow, telephoto even. Taking this break from photography made me realize I miss a lot looking through my lens.

If I had been taking pictures at the tie-dye party, I might not have really seen the creativity spark in the eight kids as they made their welcome-to-summer-2012 t-shirts. I might not have really seen how Helios decorated his t-shirt with the precision of a watchmaker while Leonardo painted his as if he were channeling Jackson Pollock. From the view of my lens, I might not have noticed that all the girls brought socks to tie-dye as well as t-shirts and they wanted to do multiple shirts while the boys were happy to do just one shirt and then return to their backyard games. Holding my camera, I wouldn't have been able to simultaneously assist with tie-dyeing and cook the biscuits that one friend brought to compliment her delicious homemade sour cherry jam. If I had been focused on taking pictures, I might not have remembered all these details of a day in our life.

With my camera, I would have remembered the moments by the pictures I took, the posed moments, the "look what I can do" moments. Those would have been good moments but without a photo, I am relying on my other observations to capture the memory: the heat of the sun on the tabletops, the cool water in the dipping buckets, the colorful stains on our skin, the tartness of the jam, the kids' voices saying "look at mine!"and "who's got the red?" and "Mrs. Courtney, can you mix some more turquoise?"

But I really wish I had a few pictures of these times. Ay, there's the rub.