Sunday, 25 July 2010
Now for you and me it may not be that hard to reach our dreams/But that magic feeling never seems to last/And while the future's there for anyone to change/Still you know it seems, it would be easier sometimes to have changed the past
- Jackson Browne, 'Fountain of Sorrow'
Sunday, 18 July 2010
Saturday, 17 July 2010
The Nothing But Nets foundation provides long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to help prevent malaria in Africa. For every ten dollars donated, Nothing But Nets sends a net that can protect up to two adults for five years.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Monday, 12 July 2010
On Friday she came over with her boyfriend, and we picked out dresses and got creative with sellotape and chose jewellery. Kim did our hair, and then we arrived to a red carpet reception with the others already waiting.
We had our photographs taken in the sunshine, and I was teased for opting for orange juice instead of champagne. Dinner was soup followed by duck followed by cheesecake, but in truth we were more interested in the extraordinary magician and catching up with old friends. I met someone I have hardly seen since primary school, and we talked about old times and changes.
Eventually we regrouped downstairs on the dancefloor. Tom's moves were extraordinary, Jonny put his foot down and refused to budge from his chair, and Lottie found out that she is a master at Poker.
The clock struck twelve. I disappered outside to wait for our ride home, and it felt a little like stepping back into the real world. But Cinderalla this story was not. In fact, I felt more accepted here than anywhere else - more able to be who I am and accept who I am not. There were no transformations at midnight. Just me, a little tipsy, waiting in the warm air, in a silver dress.
Sunday, 11 July 2010
- Jackson Browne, 'Night in My Eyes'
52 weeks on Flickr
When I had finished and we were sitting on the end of the dock with our feet in the water, Jonny said, Do you normally come to a place like this with other people?
I said, I’ve been here with my sister before. And I think Kim and Lottie, maybe. When we came here in the winter the lake was iced over and-
No, he said, I don’t mean to this place. I mean to a place like this.
He meant a place where you go to be alone. A place like Sorrel Lane or a place like the lake in the woods or a place like the top of the hill.
I decided a while ago that these were places where I could be selfish. They are places where you can be you without anybody else, and you can say what you want to say and think what you want to think and take the photographs you want to take. They are places which are quiet and places which don’t mind being invaded. They are places which let you leave as the same person you were when you first entered them.
Like I said, there has been a lot of selfishness on my part this week. Taking my photograph at the reservoir was, therefore, a natural extension. Only it was a little different this week, because I let someone come with me.
Jonny didn’t stay, though. He graciously took my hints, and wandered off while I went through my weekly rituals. You see, in so many ways these place I have found, places like the reservoir, are physical depictions of the process that goes on in my head when I take my photograph every week.
Fifty-two photography is a wonderfully solitary activity. Just as these places allow you to be who you are and say what you want while you are in them, this particular photography allow you to bare your soul, momentarily, within a tiny frame. The instant someone else enters that place, and the instant someone else enters the moment in which you are taking that photograph, the experience is entirely changed. You are entirely changed.
If someone else is present when I am taking my fifty-two, the photograph I come back with is extraordinarily different to the one I would have had I been alone. I knew this when we were making the origami boats and Jonny asked if he could come with me. I said yes, but when we got to the dock I think he understood. He wandered, and I set the shot up on my own, battled with the wind and candles on my own, and took the photographs on my own. The experience, and therefore the photograph, was like any other week: solitary and, yes, selfish.
But there is a beautiful contradiction. When the taking of the photograph is done, and when it has been plucked and pruned in Photoshop, is it not uploaded to the internet for the world to see?
I still don’t really know how this makes sense. It’s some more thinking. It’s another blogpost. But it’s just one example of the contradictions that filled my fifty-two this week.
In the photograph itself, fire and water are juxtaposed with the candles and the lake. As well as this, she is asleep with her head on a pillow – yet she is also outside, and her feet are dirty. It is almost as though the dream she is having has manifested itself in her real, waking life. The contradiction, the wonderful irony, comes with the fact that she is unconscious, and therefore entirely unaware that the story she has made up in her head has become her reality.
The candles may represent stars, above her head, and the boats – well, they need a blogpost all of their own. There are six, though; a small fleet, and they are pointed in different directions.
The final contradiction of the evening was one which I didn’t recognise myself. When I had finished and we were sitting on the end of the dock with our feet in the water, and we had talked about enchanted places and their link with selfishness, I said, I like the selfish experience more than the sharing experience. It’s easier.
And Jonny said, No, you can have both at the same time. Because I’m sitting here with my thoughts and I can’t tell what you’re thinking, and you’re sitting there with your thoughts and you can’t tell what I’m thinking. So, I can have my selfish experience, while sharing all of this with you.
It is possible to be simultaneously selfish and sharing. It is possible, despite the apparent contradiction, to be at once sitting next to somebody, and simultaneously in an entirely different place altogether.
ps, In the picture, one question remains. Her face is hidden from the camera. Are her eyes closed; is she really asleep? And if not, what kind of contradiction does that throw upon the entire photograph?
Sunday, 4 July 2010
- Bob Dylan, 'The Times Are A-Changin'
52 weeks on Flickr
Friday, 2 July 2010
Come gather 'round people, wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth saving
Then you'd better start swimming, or you'll sink like a stone
For the times, they are a-changin'.
Some days you seem to wait for forever. I have waited for the day that exams end since they started six weeks ago. I have waited for the day I can leave College since the middle of March. I have waited for the day I can go to the beach and dance in a dress and swim in the sea since I was fifteen. On the last day of June, the day came.
I met Lottie and Tom and Jimmy and Yueyang at the station, and we caught the train to Cromer and met Kim at the other end. We walked down to the beach and there was mist just rolling in on the horizon. I took photographs and Alice and Naomi arrived and made sandcastles. The tide came in so we sat on the promenade and Rachel and Ben joined us.
Naomi and I fetched her car while the others fetched chips for tea. We wove our way around the one-way system and parked three times before deciding on a space. Jonny joined us with his guitar, and as the sun slipped away the boys (literally) dragged me into the sea.
It only felt cold when we came out, and Alice lent me one of her dresses because I’d used up all my dry clothes. We watched the lights come on and sang songs by Dylan and the Kooks, and then went back to Rachel’s to watch DVDs and sleep on sofas.
I’m not sure what it is that pulls me back to the beach, as regularly and as violently as the moon drags the tides back and forth across the sand. Perhaps it is its magnitude. Perhaps it is important sometimes, at points when it would be easy to assume that you are unstoppable, to remember that you are insignificant. To stand at the edge of the earth and see something which is so effortlessly greater than you are. Is it not, in some ways, a relief to know that you cannot compete with the roll of the waves? Your successes and failures, the outcome of the exam you sat not six hours previously, are only relative.
On the sand you are swallowed by your surroundings. The vast expanse of sea and sky, broken only by the cliff face and jagged groynes, seems endless. The wet sand creates a distorted mirror image to duplicate the vast landscape. But close your eyes, and you realise that the sea has invaded every one of your senses. There is salt on your lips and sand grains under your fingernails. The air smells sharp and bitter, and the sound of the waves will never stop. When I was talking to Alice on the shore, her voice was lost as soon as I took more than a few steps away. The wind snatched it and the waves engulfed it, churning our conversation under the swell of the surf. It ate us.
Perhaps also, though, it is important to be able to look out at the horizon with salt water around your calves, and to clench your fists. Here is an opportunity to remember that despite your insignificance, you are free. You are freer now than you have ever been. And, if you are free, imagine how powerful you are.
The tides are changing. The line where sea and sky meet is smudged by the mist, and between me and it there is nothing but waves in which I can swim. I am standing on the shore of what comes next, and following the waves towards the horizon.