I've really come to a realization, perhaps ten years ago.
If you get this, maybe you'll get me, and how I can deal with where I am.
I figured out that I might not be where I want to be in life,
but maybe I am where I am because I need to be.
Sometimes moments I cannot photograph, and yet a camera is involved,
tell me I am where I need to be, at that moment.
New Year's Eve 1999
It was Hollywood Beach, at the turn of the Millenium,
and I was with Grace. I have some ambient dawn-lit photos of Grace,
lying in the sand, just looking at me,
with a discarded bottle of Korbel (two?) next to her on the blanket.
Just down from us were two women, visitors from the Midwest,
and their three dogs.
They saw I had my camera, and how could I say no?
What, then, were the odds that strangers were going to get their photos back?
Four dogs, and two girlfriends, and me (with Grace) had breakfast
on Hollywood Beach. We walked back to where they were staying,
and exchanged phone numbers.
I saw them a day or two later and learned that one woman's dog,
her only dog, had suddenly taken ill.
And I had the last photographs.
From New Year's Eve. 1999 into 2000.
I didn't hesitate to run the film under the counter when I returned
to my "quiet" job at Walgreens in the photo department.
Double-prints, no less.
I lost her phone number and couldn't contact her that afternoon.
I drove over to where I "remembered" they were staying.
And got lost.
I had to start asking people.
Knocking on doors.
Inquiring about two women, three dogs,
one which suddenly died.
I had Grace with me, she had such a way of disarming anyone.
And I always wore orange.
Finally I found someone who relayed some cryptic message
about two women, and thinking he heard about a dog dying,
and he thought they were staying in another corner of his villa.
He saw them because he spent time outside smoking,
where I found him.
It was 4:30p, and I went to the unit.
No one was in, but I recognized the unit from a particular view
in the parking lot where I saw them last.
I left a note saying we'd return at 7p and wait until 8p.
They were there when Grace and I returned.
The woman's eyes swelled up, and she just embraced me,
her body shuddering, all the while thanking me, over and over,
for the photographs, the night, the moment, conversation,
And my dogged determination, against, seemingly, a kennel dog's
chances of being adopted to a loving home.
I think I cried later in the car, having relinquished the
double-prints, the negative, and perhaps releasing a little pain
in this woman's heart.
She closed and welcomed the Millenium with her only friend,
and had pictures to seize the moment.
I can't remember her name, the dog's name or breed,
or whether I kept one from the night.
"Untitled" it wouldn't do the moment justice.
There'll be more.
Mark my words.