a little girl, almond eyes, tries to ignore the turn and inevitable acceleration as the plane races to disconnect and soar. she pushes the window down angrily, then pushes it down a bit more… but it’s a wonderous thing, this rocketship and she can’t help but peep through the tiny sliver left open. anger turns to awe and she lifts the full window, letting the world in. this tiny impulsive act mirrors how i feel. this is my first photo shoot tour since september 2008. i’ve left the sliver open. i am ready, rejuvinated, grateful above all else.
i ran thru phoenix airport seeing it new, snapping iPhone photos to send to my best friend, jen, whose arms are my destination this evening in florida where our journey begins…
sitting at the base of an old dark tree in florida. branches like arms, owning the concave basin of brittle discarded leaves below, stunted and hopeful. i’ve spent an entire day getting lost in dunedin. i ate blueberries at a farmer’s market, chatted with a vendor about her herbal salves and happy tummy tinctures. simon & garfunkel filled the streets and i wandered away into various antique stores, sending things back home from the local post office which was a converted train car with a sliding door and candy on one side. wandered down a nature path with the most outrageous birds and butterflies, such speckled madness. just when i was sure i was properly lost, a monarch landed on my open toe and i followed the direction that it scampered off to, depositing me at this tree… the afternoon is passing and i am in love with this day.
heading up to virginia… i leave faint pink hair dye stains on jen’s pillow and a piece of my heart with her baby son, fynn.
my flight arrived at 2pm and i found myself at brady’s grandmother’s house in virginia beach eating a sourdough sandwich, just me and her alone. miss virginia is 83 years old and was disappointed that i missed the azaleas in bloom. “ah, but the magnolias are here!”
we passed the hospital where brady was born, where he went to school, where he took a shortcut over a bridge in the neighborhood… and then she stopped in front of a slender, worn house of triangles and turned the car off. this is where brady grew up. she unlocked the door and my heart raced, my mouth dropped open and my love soared. a foyer of mirrors against deep indigo, a striped bathroom that judi called ‘french’, a room of endless fabric with various unfinished projects, ornate victorian ceilings, curtains made of antique wedding dresses, a dark wood study filled with bookcases, bedrooms of four-poster beds, old hand mirrors on roman pedestals, a basket of purple everything with my name on it.
“you’re…. driving…. a minivan…” i informed her laughing… and there in the seat, was my new baby niece, hayden. i kissed her for the first time, her cheeks all pink and sweet.
adrienne and her girlfriend, allison live in a house surrounded by antique stores and cemeteries, on a hill where the wind whips through. photo shoots under trees and an excursion to a playground. the neighbor’s little girl wanted me to braid her hair again… she was very cute…
hayden, adrienne and i then drove three hours to dad’s new house in new jersey. we arrived late at night, pulling up to this mansion at the end of a road. tall ceilings, winding stairs, chandeliers, white carpets, acres of land. “so this is how you’re livin these days, huh pops?” and i fell laughing into his arms. he excitedly gave me the grand midnight tour. fireplace in the bedroom, walk-in closets bigger than my living room, a room just for shoes, a basement of ping pong and pool where the balls light up. endless bedrooms and bathrooms and a nature preserve off the 3-level deck where families of deer live and endangered birds build their nests.
a few hours of sleep and i set my studio up in the dining room. clients drove from hours away and luckily the sky held out long enough for us to get studio as well as outdoor shots. the last one ended just as family arrived from new york city and long island. cousins, aunts, uncles, old friends from high school.
brian noodt showed up. he lives a few houses down from me on high ridge road where we grew up together. we met when we were 5 years old, rode bicycles, played spin the bottle in his treehouse. he was my first rockstar, missing weeks of school to perform in broadway plays. i would bring him his homework and babysit his brother. i remember one day when his mother took me into the city to see him perform in ‘oliver’. she bought us all gummy bracelets and we went to chinatown for dinner. i still have that program saved somewhere in a scrapbook.
he was my first date when we were around 9 years old. my mother drove us to the circus. when we arrived, he opened the door like a gentleman and when i unexpectedly reached back into the car to grab something, he slammed the car door onto my hand. the door was locked and my mother scrambled to free me as i screamed and bled. the date was over… we were both crying…
in 7th grade, jen ott called him names and sprayed him with perfume. he was so upset that i nearly beat her up. summers together at the swim club, his friend ruben, who was performing in menudo at the time, came to visit and i was starstruck. driving to high school together and then the inevitable separation that happens when we leave home for life, college and travel… and so he walks in the door of my father’s house… and i touch his face laughing, rubbing his grey hair… his boyfriend, matt, by his side. his smile the same.
scanning the room of the people i love, i realized that all three of my sisters were together. which prompted a photo shoot. my studio was still set up so i turned things on, set the settings and handed the camera over to brian, my photo agent. he captured all 4 of us together acting out and celebrating each other.
“swept away into another town”
cold and windy, early evening… my father waits at the bus stop with me. i notice deeper lines on his face, a deeper contentment, wisdom and kindness.
“dad, should i have kids?” and he speaks cautionary and true… my life right now is perfect. i have a thriving career, a great love of 5 years now, a house with a yard. i’m happier than i have ever been. why would i dip into the uncertainty of raising children? it feels more urgent now, but i have doubts… alice says that if i doubt, not to do it. my sister recently had a baby and it’s all she ever wanted. my niece is adorable and perfect but there are full days spent indoors that would drive me mad. my life is mobile. i cannot be tethered but i feel such a pull to experience the magick of making life and all the learning that comes from the raising of children.
when i question my life purpose and what i will leave behind, it is more a legacy of art, expression. it’s about books, travels, photography, affecting people…. i’m confused as to where motherhood would fit into all this. there was a documentary called ‘all we are saying’ where rosanna arquette interviewed stevie nicks about why she decided not to have children to which she replied that if she had, she would’ve been a half-assed mother and a half-assed musician as opposed to where she is now… i am not someone that does anything half-assed. i’m in it. i’m devoted. i’m focused. the thought of putting my art on hold makes me cry… but what if i miss this window and in a few years will be too old. i look for signs and insight but ultimately it is my decision. confusion leads to hesitancy and i don’t know what is fear of the unknown or just real instinct. it will become clear soon…
for now, heavy thoughts stir as i travel up route 9 from new jersey to new york city. the last moments of sun reflecting on the runway of newark airport. i’ve memorized the width of the lanes, the tilt and rattle of the bus, the coarse fabric of the seats. i hug my camera and tighten my hood around my face, feeling independent but alone. i think of brady’s lips as i trace the rise & fall of the electrical wires running along the highway. iron & wine’s ‘carousel’ on repeat and the light is fading. the lincoln tunnel sucks me in… nyc, i see you…
emotions thru port authority, eyes left, then right. my steel-toe boots on auto-pilot winding down the escalotors. nyc makes me uneasy, like someone is coming to steal from me… my camera, my soul…
touch screen to begin, new card, unlimited, slide & enter, metal, screeching and rushing. i stay to the side of the hallways between subway platforms with my elbows in, letting urgent people rush by. a sign above says “why bother?” “go home” but my sister texts me. “call me when you’re above ground and i will walk with you.”
on a plane back to los angeles, eyelashes resting on facebags. beyond exhausted, i crawl home… grateful above all else… listening to old depeche mode, the beat bouncing all around but not within. three weeks of travel, blisters on my palms and feet.
i spent the days in new york city deflecting, reflecting, caffeinating, shooting and battling indecision. in tours passed, i would shoot until i died dead and broken… but i was determined to implement balance on this one…and all tours going forward. for every sold-out shooting day, i give myself one day off. yoga will be involved. seeing friends and family will be involved. i can’t go back to how things used to be, where i gave myself an ulcer running all over the country non-stop without breaks for 4 years… my last tour in september 2008 really scared me… instigating a re-set, a total break from travel, hibernation, a retreat from everything…. this tour felt different. intention and awareness are the compasses i live by now…
morning found me at 7am in the cold at central park, sitting on the steps of bethesda terrace with my camera bag and a banana. an odd stillness amid the city chaos. i watched dogs playing and held my camera close, making wishes that everyone that day shines, that my puppy forgives me for the long absence and that the day goes well despite the cold.
the next morning, my sister diana and i went to a bikram yoga class. 90 minutes of yoga in a sauna. sweat poured off me in rivers. the heat was so intense, ten times harder than any kundalini class. it felt like survival. our planned day of museums became a 3-hour nap, an astrological reading, and then sushi.
then another full day of shoots, this time indoors with studio lighting. that jeniviva was my last shoot of the tour was just perfect. she and zoe and perish are my top favorite models… they just own it, jump into it, no fear, only stories projected through plausible glares, a love of expression, living in their hips.
jenivive exists in a silent b&w movie complete with piano accompaniment… i can hear it in my head when i shoot her… it’s a movie i want to watch over and over again. this was our third shoot together and what starts as simple fun ends up just epic… which makes me high…which ends up on magazine covers… ornate, porcelain, dreamy, timeless…. and then the clothes come off and we are stupid silly, running around the apartment singing songs, screaming ‘DUUUUUDDDEE!!!!’ at the images showing up on the screen…
4am more packing and a sedan to the airport… a peek up to my sister’s dark apartment and i blow her a kiss… turning my attention to getting the hell out of new york city. i want my boyfriend, my puppy, my lemon tree, my friends, my office, my bicycle, my BED, my bathtub, a place where i don’t have to put my toothbrush away…
almost a week has passed since i arrived back home. yoga each morning, dog parks, editing and napping… march fourth marching band played at the smashlabs. i showed up after midnight and jumped on my friends… gratitude above all else… happy to be home. 🙂