I Didn’t Recognize Myself

A piano plays a flowing chord of tinkling keys, only slightly deeper than the soothing sound of wind chimes. I would recognize the beginning of the song within literally 4 notes alone as the opening theme of one of the movies with which I identified so strongly for a good part of my life. Sabrina with Julia Ormond. The long hair with thick straight cut bangs, a mismatched hooded shirt, glasses, and a slightly stooped walk with shoulders ever tilted forward as if to hug our heart in protection and in an attempt to mask (ever so unwell) the insecurities and lack of self worth weighing down on our souls. I was shy in every sense of the word.

Within minutes of the opening scenes in Sabrina, I identified with the character wholly. But past the first 10 minutes, my one-sided camaraderie ended and I was no longer able to identify with her character any more. The story that played out was one of hope for myself – that one day I would not find a millionaire, but a purpose and a place in the world, to be a photographer, to find my value, and hopefully someone to cherish me as well.

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(Above: First is Head in Seattle’s Clouds and second is Ft. McChord)

I haven’t watched that movie in over 12 years. Until Sunday evening.

And it was amazing to see all those feelings flood back to me (I remember it all too well), and to reflect on the immense change in my own life on so many levels. I no longer recognized the or identified with the opening 10 minutes – that identification was replaced by empathy.

But do you know what was the most surprising to me and what brought me validation and peace? Knowing I succeeded in becoming a photographer, and knowing I have someone who cherishes me and would never even think to leave me alone in Paris.

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While I haven’t made it to Paris, I have found enough stunning beauty around me to more than replace it. Also, surprising to me is the recognition that the photos I am most proud of were taken in the city when I am a country girl by heart. I was born in the country, raised during my formative years in the country, and still find the most comfort and identify “home” as being surrounded by fields and mountains. But am I a city girl, too? I love visiting Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, among others. While I didn’t get to go to downtown Seattle recently, all I can think about is when I can go back with my husband and explore its beauty. I want to see New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, and even London, Berlin, Tokyo, or the surprising beauty of Madinat al-Hareer, and more recently New Delhi. (Above: San Francisco Streets by Night)

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(Above: First is the L.A. Police Station and second is Seattle’s Airport Art)

What has happened to this country girl?

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I used to hate San Francisco. I thought it was dirty and never liked visiting. While I’m still wary of her residents and prefer not to drive into her heart but rather set out on foot, I truly love her now. I love Los Angeles as only a former missionary who has served the locals could. I love the twinkling of the lights, the many people together, the being together and alone at the same time. The ability to be so seen and lost in the exact moment is magical. I also love that as a photographer I can be easily written off as just another tourist and people are patient with that – whereas in smaller towns, if you have a lens pointed in any given direction, you are regarded with the same hostility and caution as if I had a weapon trained on their heart… *shrug* Go figure, its just a camera, people! (Above: Under Golden Gate)

At any rate, I love being a photographer. As I approach my 1 year anniversary of shooting in manual, I hope I have learned a thing or two – and I hope to one day become even better and better.

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