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A nineteen year old with a camera in rural Norfolk. http://rosajoy.com

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Cambridge, November, around six p.m

This city is beautiful at night. Beautiful enough to remind me that a part of me will always be found under a streetlight next to shadows. London gave it to me, but London is too unpredictable to unearth it yet. This place is quieter, more stately, more safe. The perfect setting to start uncovering bits of yourself. To walk through, alone, in the dark, and feel not afraid but unconfined - at last. Safe and free.

I find it difficult to write about because I cannot describe what was not said out loud but only experienced. Lights and shadows and sounds and spectres and sleeplessness. My two-beat rhythmic click. (Walking because I like to walk.) Especially in the city-dark, which is not dark at all but very alive.

It is like taking part in a dance, or maybe becoming a living cell in the city's anatomy. I'm not good enough to write it, and photographing wouldn't do because it is all about the flow. It was being outside myself for a little while, a part of something much bigger.

As I turned left, away from the road, the bells at King's began to call, for a reason no one I asked later could tell me. There was no one on the pavement despite the evidence of life all around me, and the orbs of bright light above my head moved my shadow faster than I walked.

I wanted to walk back from the station on my own for my own reasons, but it turned into a journey of new sounds and of shadows and of tungsten streets. Of feeling isolated but not alone. A good kind of single-ness. A strong and brave one. A contemplative and quiet one. An independent, individualist, life-affirming one. A photograph self-portrait in motion.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

How it feels to be free

(Blogposts are strange. I've got one I still need to post, that I've been thinking about since before results came out, but apart from that I haven't had anything to write for a month or so. But today, quietly, was different.)

It is quite easy to just let weekends slip by now. Yesterday I slept until two in the afternoon and didn't feel a bit guilty. I'm absolutely shattered (although, perhaps, don't realise it until I wake up) and doing anything vaguely strenuous on the day or two I get off every week seems as ridiculous as it sounds exhausting. Hence, most of my weekends since starting my job have been spent sleeping, watching neuron-destroying television, and browsing the photographs I wasn’t taking. Thinking about loneliness, too.

“Loneliness is a choice,” I got told once. You decide to be lonely. You help it stagnate inside you by sitting around and thinking too hard. Slowly it will leech its way into your system, and it will be almost impossible to shake out.

I miss my friends. A lot. I miss Lottie and Alice and Jonny and Naomi and Ben and Tom and Rachel and all of them. I miss how we were together. I miss the way we had it over summer and the spontaneous, seat-of-your-pants plans we made. I miss walking to Lottie’s when the weather was warm and drinking hot chocolate and sitting by the reservoir and sailing boats. There are things I want back, and I can’t have them.

“So what can you have? Right now. What’s never left?”

Photographs. Singing. Playing music and thinking and writing things down. And new things, like lunch hours spent in quite Costas (which can be lonely, if I let them be, or can be an escape, the way coffee shops look in old, grainy photographs) and bus journeys dreaming.

During a telephone call I got told, “Stop being stupid. Just, go and take a photograph.”
And in a letter, I got told, “keep taking those photos, because Flickr is staying the same for too long.” And other things, like getting back into me. And they were both right.

Today was lovely. I woke up at ten, which was long enough to sleep and have a strange but pleasant dream, and then get up and answer the emails which have piled up over the last five days, and eat pain au chocolat for breakfast and put on a pile of washing. I shrugged on a dress and ignored how badly my hair needed a wash and also the make up bag on my dresser, and bundled up inside a scarf and coat and gloves and thick woolly socks and walking boats. Picked up my tripod and changed Aspen’s batteries. Turned left down the lane.

I miss taking a photograph every week, too. Not fifty-two photographs (this is another blogpost) but being able to get out once every seven days and look at life through a lens. To have the space to do that. Now I have to make the space, and I forget its importance sometimes.

So today I took photographs. Not groundbreaking, not particularly thoughtful or conceptual (although I’ve done some thinking about them since they came home, which has been interesting.) But I was out for a little over two hours and I came home with frozen fingers and a smile. I spent the afternoon editing, and uploading to the internet, and then I found an old CD I haven’t heard since I was about thirteen. Nina Simone introduced me to jazz, and in the same way I have momentarily forgotten the important of photography, I had also (momentarily) forgotten her voice. This song brought back a lot of memories. Evenings sitting on the carpet in my old room and singing and singing and listening to her singing through my speakers. The time I took the CD into school and put it on over the sound system in the music room one lunchtime, and lying on a table and smiling. Not getting told off for it. Today I realised if I didn’t think too hard I could remember all the lyrics, too.

I should make more weekends like this one.

Well I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Oh I'd soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And I'd sing cos I'd know, not sing cos I'm low
I'd know how it feels to be free.