The First Time Ever You Looked At Me...
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom
Granted, I agree, these pictures suck.
But sometimes, like most other people, I take pictures simply to remember the moment.
Thus, much like love can be, when the mood’s not right, the subject’s unpredictable, or the circumstances are otherwise inconvenient; I turn to other ways of biding my time; and most often, when the picture's not right, I turn to words to convey the art of life, the art of living.
That’s when a picture is no longer worth a thousand words, but a thousand words are worth writing, if only because they can relay and preserve the beauty and the wonderful stories of both our extraordinary and everyday experiences.
This time, the story begins on Sunday, December 2, the day of the Arts in
Bushwick (Brooklyn) "Open Spaces" festival, which sought to “foster connections within the arts community and create forums for artists to show their work.” Over thirty galleries partook in the event, including Studio 304, which had invited me back to submit photographs for a slideshow.
The first time that I had presented at Studio 304 the theme was Lunacy , and I showed a video montage of photos inspired by "the freedom of childhood" to convey some of my thoughts on the subject. (See related story: And Now, For Something A Little Crazy…)
As we left the studio after the show, the owner and organizer asked, “What should the theme be next time?”
I thought for a moment, thinking, “What would be a good follow-up to 'Lunacy'? What do we experience in life that’s crazy?”
That’s when it suddenly occurred to me and I blurted out, “Love! How about ‘Love’”?
The next time I heard from Mara, it was an invitation to submit for the art show, and this time the theme was going to be—“What we think about, when we think about Love.”
Albeit, the actual introductory comments at the show were a much-abbreviated version of my original notes, I prepared the following explanation for what I ultimately created:
There are three things I would like to convey about this piece:
Firstly, and you’ll have to please excuse the cliché, but, INDEED, I do believe that love is a many-splendored thing.
Thus, I found it imperative to convey a multitude of perspectives concerning “What I think about, when I think about love.”
Secondly, I feel that reflecting on the experiences of love naturally lends itself to the narrative.
Hence, this piece presents six very-very short stories about love, using photos I have taken over the last ten years of my life.
And being that I just turned 40 on Thanksgiving, a little over a week ago, I’m looking forward to creating three more pieces about what love meant to me during the fist three decades of my life.
Finally, I have personally, never known love without a face.
So, integral to each vignette is the face of a person I have loved and who somehow represents the kind of love conveyed by the respective story she is featured in.
And with that, I present to you: Six Stories of Love
Apropos to the moment, I had invited one of the six subjects to come view the premiere of the video with me at the show.
And of course, as fully expected, she stood me up, yet again (yet again). She actually had the gall to blame me for some inane reason (i.e. "You didn’t tell me it was going to snow…”) and later asked if I was “angry” with her.
I tried my best not to be perturbed and to be “mature” about it, and replied, “I don’t know if anger is an appropriate response—when people meet your expectations.”
Nonetheless and allthemore, I learned that we never learn when it comes to love. We are bound to forget the past and gamble against the odds, betting that indeed, this time! she will exceed my expectations...
Alas, once again, I was wrong.
Thus, after the show I trudged through the snow and toured a few of the other studios, all by lonesome. I tried not to wallow too much, telling myself that a true artist is always bound to walk alone.
Thus, whim showed me the way, and eventually I ended up at Ruby Streak Trapeze Studio’s Circus O’ Love, which was hosting a performance of its students.
Among the performers, there was a certain beautiful redhead that kept looking at me from across the room. Admittedly, since I was beguiled, I felt somewhat self-conscious and blamed her gawking on the fact that I was using my camera. “She must be glaring at me because she's mad that I’m taking photos without consent,” I foolishly thought to myself.
Alas, I was flustered and wasn’t thinking straight, because not too long afterward, she came and sat right next to me. She occasionally gave me sideway glances, but once again I chalked it off as pure coincidence, “It is only by chance that she is sitting next to me.”
Now, that I can think straight, looking back I must say that I was likely shamefully wrong, for although it was certainly a rather small room, she could just have easily chosen to sit elsewhere; and in error, shy as I was, I didn’t even say “Hello,” “Hi. How are you?” “Nice show you have here.” Nope, nothing, nada.
Having, in a sense just being stood up by an old girlfriend for the millionth time, I suppose I was afraid of rejection in some strange way. I was afraid that she’d think, “Here’s another guy trying to pick up on me,” because, surely, I thought, she must get hit on all the time.
But ironically enough, she could have also have stared at me and then moved toward me, because that is exactly what she wanted, that’s exactly what she was expecting, she wanted me to say something, say anything, to her.
Alas, instead, I chose not to roll the dice and meet any such expectations. Instead, I cowered, coyly bowing my head, so that I might continue to take more lousy pictures.
“Two people could be at a party together, sitting right across from each other and never find each other. And another two people could be on opposite sides of the world...and nothing could keep them apart.”
—Richard LaGravenese, The Fisher King —
Thus, I suppose this time, this love was simply not meant to be.; which is a pretty lame excuse if you ask me, much like blaming others for the things we do not do, the commitments we do not keep, or the life we do not lead.
Everyday there is an opportunity to either love or be loved, we simply must not be afraid to embrace those moments, to say “Hello,” to say “Fuck it!” when the odds are against us and the only thing we really have to fear—is fear itself.
We must not be afraid to say hi to strangers, if only because our best friends, our greatest lovers, our wisest teachers, were all once strangers too.
Just as everyday there is a chance to see and capture and relay the beauty of life that surrounds us, everyday there is a chance to love someone, old and familiar, strange and new.
That’s why I take pictures, that’s why I write, because art enables me to express my love for my friends, family, and—life itself.