The weather has been so lovely and I have been moderately busy and so I haven’t written anything for weeks … but right now I am visiting my family in Minnesota and everyone is either reading for book club (sister), at a plant sale (brother-in-law and niece) or napping (nephew) and so I decided I better write something right away for fear of letting this site languish with disuse.
I am well. Things are good. I am in Minnesota, kicking off a summer of travel and photography in almost the best way possible: with my wonderful family. The only thing that would make it better would be rescuing O from school and getting him out here, too. Who needs instruction on what composes the jelly that fills your eyeballs (ophthalmology block!) when you can be at a park in 70 degree weather, taking photos and eating ice cream? I guess the future PA’s of America, that’s who, but I still wish he were here.
One major highlight over the past few days has been listening to my niece rapid-fire live-streaming her four-year-old life. Last night at dinner, she dropped a chip over her shoulder and it smashed on the floor. Without missing a single beat, she said “my chip fell down and broke its heart!”
… and that very same niece just came back from the garden store and there is no way more writing is getting done right now. Ciao ciao for now, peeps.
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From: 29 year old Emily
To: 13 year old Emily
Subject: Another message from Emily
Date: April 25, 2013
Thank you, dear girl, for making my day. As you were writing this back in ’97, I know you didn’t give a single thought to the almost thirty-year-old self that might read it one day and laugh hysterically, nearly falling off her bed and almost peeing her pants at the same time. I’m glad you didn’t. In thinking about the future, you might have changed it and I wouldn’t want that. There are so many things right with this email that I can’t even list them all.
I’ll try, though.
1. Nineteen sentences, forty nine exclamation points.
2. Your precocious use of symbols to draw random shit. So early in the internet revolution and you are already using that rose at the signature line? YES.
4. That subject line. “Message from Emily”. It reminds me of what a grandmotherly type might use today as a header in an email she wrote on her funny computer contraption, the same lady who might be found writing “please find me the best recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies on an well-rated baking web page or web log” into her Google search bar.
5. Your pure excitability. Ain’t no one gonna get you down, kid, not even, like, a blizzard. I don’t like exclamation points all that much, but I like you!!!!!!!!! And I like your enthusiasm.
Thank goodness someone, that unknown but critically important individual, taught my sister to use the I-net. Without her ability to email, I never would have had a record of this little gem that brightened my Thursday immeasurably.
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8 am, wake up on the good ol’ couch of some dear and generous friends who let me crash in their home with startling frequency. read the news, check the email, dawdle for an hour. no breakfast. i need to get better about eating breakfast.
9am, get ready to go. hot showers are an absolute requirement for me in the morning, hot hot hot ones, and when i am traveling i always wear this necklace, a gift from o. isn’t it pretty?
10am, finally out the door, only to be greeted by snow lazily drifting onto my rental car, which conveniently did not come with a ice scraper. indecisive colorado weather, we meet again. it was 60 degrees yesterday. the drive to work takes 45 minutes; it usually clocks in at about 20.
11am, 12pm, 1pm, time for some “grant writing” at the nonprofit i work with (and adore). the quotations in that last sentance hint at the truth of the situation: it is difficult to actually accomplish much in the office when i am only surrounded by my funny, kind and much-missed coworkers for a measly three hours each month. i’d rather chat with them, but i do manage to get some work done.
2pm, prep the gear and drive to the foothills for a newborn shoot. the snow has become a near white-out, so i’m happy this one has been planned as an indoor session. the drive? more than an hour this time. bleck. i have forgotten all of my denver radio stations and so i just hum along with the slushy car-in-snow noises acting as my beat.
4pm, 5pm, awwww, little baby in swaddle. as i shoot, i think how much more fun it would be if o. were here as well, but i am still awfully lucky to do this for work and i know it.5.55-6pm, stare at car-reported temperature. once my dismay freezes into numbness, i head to a coffee shop to begin sorting and editing. post-processing takes much more time than the actual shoot and i am glad to sit down and get a start on it.6pm, arrive and order hot chocolate with whipped cream, hold the chocolate powder on top because i always inhale at the wrong moment and cough it back up. looking over the photos from my four weekend shoots, i know i’ve caught some great images.7pm, dinner back home, de-coated and with snow melting in my hair, with my hosts and their wonderful kids. the littler of the two is demanding a movie after dinner (he got to watch one with a babysitter the night before and wants the trend to continue) and witty big sister makes my favorite quip of the night: “if you give a mouse a movie…”
8pm, some ramona with harper. we’ve been working on this book for ages now but will have to finish it over skype after i return home tomorrow morning. a 7 o’clock flight means an early morning, so i need to head to bed around nine. (sleep finally catches me around eleven, but at least i’m all caught up on “the office” now.)
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I think there have been two things clearly established on this blog: one is that I wear my knit bonnet approx. 90% of the time (I had no idea) and the other is that I don’t much like flying in airplanes. It’s the second one that’s on my radar again today, in anticipation of yet another flight tomorrow.
Before we went our first date, back when we hung out on campus for hours at a time but never left the university together, O was walking me to my car one evening after class. I was taking a trip in a few days and lamented the fact that I had to fly to get there. I have always been grateful, make no mistake, for the ability to see family and visit friends and do my job without needing a covered wagon and five months of my time. That in addition to possibly getting dysentery. But there isn’t always overlap in the Venn diagram of gratefulness and fear; I was wholly both, in this case.
After prompting me to explain what exactly I dreaded (‘plummeting down to earth from thousands of feet above the ground and dying alone in a fireball of screams and steel’) he said something I will never forget.
‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘that would be terrible. That would be really, really sad.’
And that was it. That was what he said, period, end of sentence.
I was silenced by his simple acknowledgement that the thing I feared would be awful if it came to fruition.
Most people want to solve the problem, see. They want to reassure, fix it, explain why it’s silly to be afraid of planes. With what I am pretty confident are kind intentions, they convince and cajole, not realizing that quoting statistics about the number of people killed annually by camels vs. those that die in plane crashes is more likely to make me avoid camels than to waltz cheerfully onto a plane. I know- have always known- that it is an irrational fear. Since I infinitely prefer to be rational, that’s one of the most embarrassing things about it.
That day, I tucked our conversation into a fold of my memory, O and I started talking about something else and things continued on their merry way. It was just a short moment and if I never brought it up again, O probably wouldn’t remember it at all. He was just being his normal self – a self that I feel indescribably lucky to be with every single day- and, in all truth, he may have responded the way did because it was the only thing he could think to say in the moment. He was not trying to be a Wise Counselor with a Philosophical Theory on how to respond to Admissions of Weakness. He was just being O and O is a good listener who does not tend to dismiss possibilities, whether they are good or bad.
His ability to hear and then proceed immediately to an easy acceptance of my rather non-adorable fear changed something for me. I realized that he would not- will not- always understand everything about me, but he wouldn’t dismiss those things he hasn’t experienced himself.
Every time I head to the airport, I remember this conversation, and every time, I am reminded to listen. To listen to my friends and my family and maybe even that girl sitting next to me in the coffee shop. I am reminded that not everything needs to be prodded and fixed, that just saying ‘uh-huh’ can make someone feel a little more understood.
Feeling a little more understood is a big deal.
And just think! If we can manage to shush for a minute and just hear someone else out, years later when that person goes to get on another airplane, they might still be a little afraid and that plane might still decide to have mechanical problems… but at least they will not have spent precious hours of their life looking up whether it’s true, what was quoted at them, that flying on a Tuesday is, statistically, the safest day of the week to fly.
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On the topic of why having a child isn’t the biggest responsibility ever:
O: It’s really only a thirteen, fourteen, year commitment. After that they don’t even like you or want to hang out with you anymore, right?
On the topic of how birthday gifts evolve as you become an adult:
Friend B: I’m going to have to save up to do this [juice detox], I think. Maybe it will be a birthday present to myself!
Me: Yeah! Happy birthday! You don’t get to eat any food for weeks! Yay!
On the topic of always striving for more:
Me: We really have made each other’s lives better, haven’t we?
O: Yeah, we really have. Now we need to make the lives of every other person in the world better, too. They will call us Mother and Father Theresa.
On the topic of injuring your back at age twenty-nine:
In a get-well card from my beloved co-workers: “I hope you feel better soon. You are far to young to have such an old injury.”
On the topic of the joys of living in New Haven:
Friend A: …. and then five more police cars pull up, and they get out and point their guns at that car next to me, so I roll down my window to see if they need to give me instructions or anything, and they tell me to get down, get down …
On the topic of why I have a hard time working when O is around:
O: I guess Merlin really was the greatest wizard who ever lived, huh?
On the topic of ridiculous high school activities:
Anonymous Friend: Yeah, we had a streaking club. The B.U.N.S. club. It stood for ‘brotherhood, unity, nudity, secrecy’
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