The Photo I Didn’t Take

We drove home a different way than usual today. Road construction forced us to take the scenic route over the faster more efficient way. We passed the golf course, the city park, the fire station and then the street.

“There it is mom! Remember?”

I remembered. That’s where we walked to in the fall, when we drew pictures on the sidewalk with fallen berries and wilting dandelions. The walk prompted talks about what we both wanted to be when we grew up (she an artist and I, still undecided). We turned down an empty street and walked the inside lip of a cul-de-sac, kicking through piles of leaves, watching them scatter and spread with the wind. We felt like powerful colossuses, stomping through a small village. I filled out my body, I took up the space I wanted. I felt full of life.

Soon I was out of breath and I dropped down to my butt.

“C’mon mom! Let’s keep going, we’re having so much fun!”

“We can have fun on the ground too” I replied.

She kicked through another pile before joining me on the ground of the small hill.

“Now what?” she asked.

“Now this!” I yelled as I crushed a fistful of dried leaves onto the top of her head and watched it break apart into millions of little pieces. I didn’t even let it bother me, thinking about how long it was going to take to get all of those leaves out of her hair. I’d started a war. A few more minutes in, I was aware of a longing for my camera. I wanted to capture this moment. Save it. Freeze it. Keep it up on the fridge forever but I knew that on the other side of the lens I would be out of the moment. I would be directing, forcing, controlling and ultimately losing the joy of the experience.

And sitting with this knowledge, well, it just plain sucks.

I want it both ways. I want to live and be present in the moment and I want to record the moment. What if I forget this day? Forget this happiness? It happens sometimes with depression… but I am capturing it, here and now.

She was wearing soft, black boots. Blue denim jeans and a white sweatshirt. The dried bits of leaves blended in perfectly with her hair, the same brown shade of autumn. Her cheeks had that natural blush that always seems to follow kids when they come in from outside, yet she looked so grown up.

“That’s where you left that huge imprint of your butt, remember mom?”

Yes dear and I hope I never forget.

photography-love

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