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Photography: A Love Story
[Query for a screenplay]
*Voiceover: a middle aged woman's voice syncs with footage as the camera pans over an empty bench in a public park*
There were steps and missteps to get to where I am now.
First, I went on long walks.
Step by step, I noticed and fell in love with Nature.
A local photographer offered his friendship and wisdom; eventually, I purchased a little digital point and shoot (5 cameras ago).
My curiosity didn't kill any cats, just my bank account! (FYI - Trade-ins don't hold their value).
It was a gentle time of growth.
Like the flora I watched push from the dirt and reach for the light, my spirit awakened from a long self-imposed slumber. I could sense it, but I didn't know what do do with these new emotions.
*The camera switches to the back of a woman alone in a tiny rental home typing away on her keyboard. Her words sync with her keystrokes*
I finally got to a point where I felt comfortable enough with my efforts to see if I could share and learn from other hobbyists.
I joined Flickr and, too soon, the "social" aspect of social media overwhelmed me.
I rejoiced in the attention of a popular photographer from the UK who confirmed for me that he was "unique and that I would never have another a friend like him."
I believed him. Surely, the first and worst of the onslaught of stumbles that followed.
He was so well travelled and well liked, he had to be a decent human being, right?
Can an artist create works of astounding beauty without having a beautiful soul?
*There's a transition from Old Glory to the Union Jack, and a man and a woman each have cell phones pressed to their ears. Split screen to bedrooms, bike rides (for him), long walks (for her), workplace parking lots, pubs (for him), the sofa (for her), and long car rides as he shoots around the British Isles. They're always talking with the phones pressed to their ears or tapping away on the screen. Her night table clock should read 3AM to account for the 5 hour time difference*
He counseled, "I don't drive my car in reverse, and I don't live my life that way."
He also told me, "Coffins don't come with side pockets, so don't hold anything back."
I was an apt pupil and did as I was told.
I studied his work and asked questions, but although he mentored others and frequently praised their efforts, with me, after the initial "love bombing" stage, I didn't exist to him in public. When I questioned why, he would counter with this defense: "Is it more important to have meaningful private conversations or limited public conversations?"
I felt stupid for questioning his intentions.
At one point, my sole artistic outlet was limited to the moments he'd Whatsapp me, tell me had posted, and then wait for me to comment.
I would write my pathetic little heart out, and he would ... ignore my comments but write replies to his top 3-5 rotating roster of Flickr femme fatales. His favorite for each post would be awarded the coveted :-)
*At this point, the graphics should show a plane flying to Norway, New York and California. Each leg of the journey finds the woman anticipating contact, but with each adventure with other admirers, his attention waxes and wanes solely on how he and each of his other relationships unfold.*
-- Although in private, we would talk multiple times a day for almost 3 years--except when he'd leave his family to go on trips with other women. Then, he'd just text me emoji hearts to ... well, I don't know why).
*The next scene takes place in a therapist's office. The woman takes accountability for her role in the toxic situation*
I take responsibility for setting aside my desire to improve my photography skills in order to be a part of his life.
I take responsibility for being an introverted, socially awkward woman with emotional issues who finally felt "seen."
I take responsibility for basking in the warmth of the human contact as my best friend, who was like a sister to me, endured a prolonged and hideous death from brain, spinal, and breast cancer.
I take responsibility for not heeding the red flags.
I take responsibility for temporarily giving up on this life-saving hobby because he has forgotten more about photography than I'll ever learn.
I take responsibility for assuming most people come from a good place.
I'd like for him to take responsibility for lies that were the very basis of the relationship. Lies that were serious, like when we spoke on the phone for the first time, and he told me, "Sadly, my marriage didn't work out." He never explained how or why his wife, who lived in his house with him, and their friends, family, and work colleagues never saw that particular memo. I think his marriage worked out, but he knew that message wouldn't be received well by women who support other women and, you know, aren't homewreckers or aspiring homewreckers
*At this point, the therapist looks concerned and offers a book with the prominent title 'Malignant Narcissism and Their Supply Chain.' *
I thought his public disregard was because my photography wasn't up to par. That might be partially true, but fully true, is that he was juggling multiple women.
Ball one: a mistress of 5 years who celebrates and details their affair with emo poetry and special hashtags on her well-received stream.
Ball two: His backup mistress with whom he flies around the world (in public and in secret). She also has a well-received stream.
Ball three: A local (to him) tertiary mistress who stalked me, "befriended" me, and after I blocked her (when it became obvious she had no interest in me) wrote an open letter on her stream bullying and belittling me for an apology I wrote for blocking her. Ironically, her favorite pastime is to write essays about kindness ...
Ball four: His legally wedded ball and two child chains
Ball five: The future links lining up to be in his supply chain.
So, to be fair, I guess he was too busy in public to keep up his private promises.
He slam dunked me in February 2021, yet I still feel the slings and arrows of his flying monkeys from around the world: USA, UK, and Germany to name a few.
3 streams later, here I am.
Trying to make a go of it.
*Last shot. The woman sits in the car in front of the house where her friend passed away from the ravages of cancer during the most tumultuous of times. She feels a twinge of guilt as she remembers rushing home from visits just in case her UK friend wanted to talk. If she could only go back. She knows she can't, so with resignation, she reflects on the future as she drives.*
Popularity isn't the point.
Perfection isn't the point.
What is the point?
Why am I here?
I'm not sure.
Some days, it's for the friends I meet.
Sometimes, it's learning about places I've never been.
Other times, it's the wildlife.
The best times are when my broken heart heals a smidgen when I look back on the stream of photos that represent growth in photography, writing, and a connection to the world outside of my whirling, swirling thoughts.
So, do your worst.
I'll keep bringing my best.
*No musical soundtrack to close out. Just early morning sounds and the click of a shutter on a camera.*
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Lisa, your photos are inspiring and tell a story, seen and told with your look. It is a pleasure to browse your gallery and delight in your photos. It's great to share the same taste for photography with you.