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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 …

sometimes, yes


Late Friday night on the way back from a friend's house V falls asleep in the car seat. I am next to her, her little hand going slack in mine. N is navigating the slick, slushy lanes looking for a place to park. Under a great tree, next to shiny pipes that run above the earth as they snake through the neighborhood we get out of the car. Our movements are methodical, ginger as the baby is pulled from her seat and I pull her to my chest. Her jacket makes little squeaking sounds against mine as we walk along the wobbly ice. I think of a party I went to when I was finishing high school, all local artists and friends of my parents. There was a girl, I want to say her name was Chelsea. In any case, she fell asleep, her face resting against my arm. I found myself offering to carry her to the car, while her mother gathered their things. Her father was not there. I carried that little girl the same way, feeling those rag doll arms and legs swinging loose.

V is working against gravity, sliding down and then I gently move her face back up to my ear. We pass some unknown neighbors, no looks, no traded glances. I move slower, the ice is in lopsided stretches here. She feels heavier now. Her hair smells like fresh yellow cake. I think of so many fathers I have seen carrying children like this, solemn trophies. Is it so strange to understand I am one of them? Sometimes, yes.

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