Category : Community
I met Andy and Josh when I was out in Oregon for my pre-doctoral internship. Coming from very different parts of the country and different doctoral programs, the three of us all matched (crazy, computerized ranking and matching system like medical residency) at the University of Oregon’s Counseling and Testing Center for this last component to earn our doctoral degrees. Interestingly, while all three of us were in long-term committed relationships, we all moved out to Eugene, Oregon without partners for the year for one reason or another. Since we were all managing long-distance relationships and being away from our partners for the first time, we had an instant bond. But there was much more than that.
The three of us also share many personality characteristics and those sealed our friendships. During the course of that internship year, we spent so much time together — yes, at the Counseling Center for work, but lots of time hanging out, going to happy hour and sporting events, eating together, attending festivals, and a super fun weekend trip to Seattle. Oh and we LAUGHED together. Belly-aching, tears-running-down-your-face kind of laughing. Along with all that fun, there was all the listening and being there for one another as we managed health crises, difficult job searches, dissertation research, and relationship issues being apart from our partners. While my training and work at the University of Oregon Counseling Center was amazing, Andy and Josh made my internship year what it was.
As I look back on that time, I wouldn’t change it for anything. On the surface, it sounds ludicrous that I would choose to spend that year apart from Tony, with him in Missouri and me in Oregon. But had I made a different choice — that Tony was able to join me in Oregon, or that Oregon felt too far away and so I didn’t rank it #1 — then my relationships with Josh and Andy would not have developed in the ways that they did or perhaps even exist. That’s the thing about being able to go back in time and change one small aspect of your life — it would change everything.
It’s been almost 8 years since we completed our internship at the U of O. And through those years, we’ve done a good job of keeping in touch and visiting one another. With job changes, moves across the country, and having a kid, two years had passed since we had gotten together. So, I’m beyond grateful that Josh and Andy came to visit last week. Words don’t convey how fabulous it was to see them and to connect. They’re my best guys.
In solidarity with Boston and all who were hurt or killed…
Life as we know it can change in an instant. I think the events of the past week remind us all of that. As I look back over the past few months, I am seeing ways in which I’ve been reminded repeatedly of this change-ability of life. My favorite film of this year’s True/False Festival, The Crash Reel, was all about the frailty of our human experience and how quickly it all can change. Focusing on the devastating training-run crash of then Olympic-bound snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his slow steps at healing, we as viewers are pulled in immediately to how his life changes 180 degrees in one moment. We are reminded, in deeply affecting and emotional ways throughout the documentary, that each of us is potentially one instant away from our own life-altering moment.
Watching this film reminded me of a childhood friend’s grandmother whose life was forever impacted by a freak, Frida Kahlo-like car accident. I thought about my friend’s niece who almost died this past summer of cardiac arrest at the age of 9. It brought up horrific images of 9/11, Columbine, the tsunami. Memories of countless close calls and near-misses in my own life and in the lives of my friends and loved ones bubbled up. The film reverberated with me for a few weeks as it culled forth my experience of being diagnosed with cancer five years ago and the ways in which that health crisis changed me and my life in an instant. I’m sure as you are reading this, just as I sit here writing, other memories and stories of lives changing in the blink of an eye flash before us.
And while these thoughts can bring about such despair and sadness, this awareness can also remind us to cherish what we have in our lives right now. I remember when Tony and I were going to sleep the evening we saw The Crash Reel, I couldn’t hug him tight enough. I distinctly remember holding onto him as we lay there in our friends’ guest room, thinking how much I love him, how much I need him, how quickly our lives are flying by, and how much I want to keep this moment forever. I recall having waves of fear that this moment, and the next, indeed our fifteen plus years together, will all keep whizzing by, and that in any one moment, something could come crashing in that changes all of it. I can still feel the pangs of guilt I had in knowing I am not always so mindful of this bigger picture, that I’m not always so close to understanding my deep love for Tony and the gratitude I have for him in my life. No, I could more clearly see all the moments I totally take for granted, the times I choose to be on the computer or my phone scrolling through social media rather than talking to Tony about our respective days at work, the times I’m frustrated that he didn’t rinse out his coffee mug (again!), and on and on. And I remember thinking before drifting off to sleep that I don’t want to do that anymore, I don’t want to take Tony for granted, I don’t want to choose to look at Instagram rather than connecting with him, I don’t want to be so frustrated about the damn coffee mug.
But then, that moment was gone. I fell asleep. I woke up the next day, and my life marched on with all its usual distractions, ungratefulness, and annoyances. And then my neighbor was diagnosed with cancer. A wake-up call. And then students at Tony’s high school were in a terrible car accident coming back from lunch. Another wake-up call. And then the episodes of this past week unfurled. More wake-up calls. So I write this post to remind myself to stay awake. To urge my awareness to linger. To choose love, every day. Because life can change in an instant. xoxo
Today is day 365 of my 365 project. But, I needed to write this post for today. I’ll be sharing my thoughts tomorrow on this past year’s journey, and announcing my next project. See you then.
Celebrating my student’s successful dissertation defense…
After the events of this week, looking to be grounded and rooted…
When at a Murder Mystery Party…
So grateful. For so much. More info here…
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, I hope Spring is making its way to you. Here in the Midwest, she is coming in fits and starts. As I type this, Mother Nature is sleeting and raining and giving us a dose of wintry mix. But just a few days ago, I took my shoes off and stood in the grass for the first time in 2013. Luckily, I caught that moment on film. Here is that brief moment (on the left) as part of the first “polatych” for April in my collaboration with Celina (hers on the right). We are doing double exposures for our theme this month.
I shoot a variety of formats — digital, Polaroid, 35mm, 120/Lomography, and iPhone. I love each of these formats for different reasons, and I appreciate that photography allows me to play in such different forms of the same craft. In shooting across these spectrums, I often think about if there is one format I like “best.” So, being wired the way I am as a researcher, I decided to do a little experiment and shoot the same scene with multiple formats. I thought this might help me really see some of the differences and similarities across instant film, 35mm film, and digital platforms.
I hope you click HERE to see the rest of my post over at Mortal Muses where I compare and contrast three different images of this colorful rocking horse. I’d love to hear your thoughts on which you like best!