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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 …

a visitor


I am in the living room, long dark with just the lamp and the light from the screens. The work goes well, and I am firing on most cylinders. I do not realize what time it is, just know there is laughter and tiny shouts from the kitchen, the gentle mayhem of the three women under our roof. I am obsessed over an edit, playing the sequence down staring close, leaning back, nudging one frame in, one frame out, alternating takes, overlapping sound. Maybe it is fine, but I have stared at it too long to really know that.

I ask myself what kind to music needs to come next. Something hesitating. I tap my fingers on the thick glass of the desk, thinking about how slow it should be. My stomach growls. I probably need to start dinner soon.

And then I look up and V is in the doorway to the living room, on her hands and knees. She has crawled all the way from the bedroom. Her chin is up, head titling back, staring at me with giant eyes N is hunched down behind her, holding her steady. V grins wildly, one of her sweet shrieks bouncing around the big room. I am outside myself. Suddenly standing and swooping down to pick her up, and then there is a stretch of time playing on the bed, stacking the rainbow rings on the yellow cone, putting toys on my head for her to retrieve and there is no thought in my mind, not of war, or the crumbling economy, not of racism or cops killing unarmed men, not of fake food or new diseases, not of warm oceans and dying fish. There is nothing but this bed, no looming elections, just the round face looking up at me, crawling, smashing headfirst into pillows and her muffled laughter.





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