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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

almost


Things are slipping though my fingers. I can see them, just out of reach as they twirl in the dark. Almost, an almost. And yet at the same time, a full life, days crammed with blessings and laughter. Nights dancing in the kitchen, the baby rocking wildly in her chair, E with her big eyes in mid-thought, N with her Mona Lisa smile. A bottle of wine cracked open, special glasses on the table. There is no way to complain about anything. Impossible.

The life of the reluctant expat is a series of lessons. The opportunities are distant and slim. You have to carve them out with your bare hands if you want something to happen. At the same time, there are no distractions here. The work is that of a hermit, of messages in bottles floating inside a bubble on the other side of the moon. The unheard story, the whispered idea.










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