Wednesday, October 12, 2011

plotting the curve

I am trying to remember how I got from there to here. I know that twelve years ago, I was miserable, and I know that I am not miserable anymore. But I don't know how, when, why, that changed. Was it an even upward slope? Was it imperceptible for years before sweeping quickly up in a surge of sanity? I have points I can plot on that graph, but they are few and far between.

Marking the lowest point: Sitting on a sidewalk in Rome, in July of 2000, my back pressed against the side of a building. Trying to make myself small. Most of my memories of Europe are memories of the photographs I took, and so I don't know what that street looked like. I fill in the holes with the images I do have: pale gray columns in Venice, curved and elegant, lining gray stone steps. Gray cracks in a gray sidewalk in Berlin. I shot everything in black and white. I have three rolls full of the Roman forum in splendid despair, and half a roll of the Colosseum. But the only photo I have of the Vatican is a quick snapshot while crossing the street, the dome of St. Peter's bright in the distance. I spent that day crying on the sidewalk, cross-legged with my camera bag in my lap, determined to never be happy again.

(Jeriah tells the story differently. He charts "rock bottom" a week or two earlier, in Paris. We were on the fourth or fifth floor in a cream colored apartment building in Monmartre. He says that there were days when we never left the building because I couldn't bear to uncurl my spine. But all I remember is a little white-walled room where we ate bread and cheese and I read Stardust aloud at night. I'd forgotten to reset my film speed, so in my memory, the room is always overexposed, almost too bright to be seen. I have no memory of being sad in Paris.)

Marking the highest point: Walking down Jefferson Street in January 2009 with John Englebrecht, the sidewalk treacherous with secret icy patches and lumps of iced-over snow. I told him that I thought I could do anything I wanted.

No comments: