One Minute is Worth a Thousand Pictures [Stay@Home Nerd]
This was supposed to be part II of my rant against the current state of customer service in California. I wanted to share with you some sweet tips for saving money and getting the service you deserve. Part of my rise to guru status was the new and FREE wireless router I got from AT&T. However, my step by step guide to getting what you want, when you want fell apart when said router failed to meet minimum operating standards. The big issue: it doesn’t connect to the server. (In case you are wondering, yes, it is a Gateway 2Wire.) I will put my proven methods to the test once more and be back in two weeks with my foolproof method for getting the customer service you deserve.
Until then, I will ask you for your thoughts on something I’ve been ruminating on for the past few months and that’s memories. We all have them. If you’re following the beating of Brian Stow story then you know how unreliable eyewitness testimony of a crime is. But, what about simply being an eyewitness to an event that only holds significance for you and you alone?
I ask this because this past weekend my wife and I took our son to a Huntington Library Members event. The event included live music and the option of picnicking on their lavish grounds during sunset after regular hours. It was beautiful, but that’s not what I’m going to remember.
My wife, mother-in-law, and I set a blanket down and had fruit, sandwiches, chips, and cold pasta salad, unfortunately forgetting the wine and dessert at home. My blue-eyed, blonde-haired son grabbed a peeled banana, one of his favorite fruits, and simply walked away. After about ten feet he dropped his banana. He picked it up. We called him back to brush it off. He ignored us and continued on his way. He continued walking downhill on the grassy patch until he came to a concrete pathway.
At about 35 feet away, this is where I would usually get him or at the very least call to him, especially if kept walking. There was no real danger around – just a lot of families doing the very same thing. Instead of walking he sat down right there on the grass. He was positioned two feet from the edge of the sidewalk when he looked back at us. He spent the next ten minutes watching people walk past. Most of them looked at him and smiled. Some looked around to see if he belonged to anybody. We never let him out of our sight and he appeared to be having a grand old time trading the occasional I’m-getting-away-with-something smile and what I can only call hand waves with us.
This made me happy. He even brushed the grass off his fallen nanner and ate the whole thing. Then the people stopped walking by. This coincided with the beginning of the music and after a couple of minutes I saw something unmistakable.
One of the advantages of being a stay-at-home parent is developing the keen sense of anticipation necessary for meeting your kid’s needs. I can tell by looking at his face whether he is hungry, thirsty, tired, happy, restless, curious, scared, mad, shy, pooping, or needing to poop. That basically covers all of his feelings and thus all of his needs. What I saw Saturday night was the sinking and tensing of his shoulders followed by a long, slow head swivel in all directions. I stood up and started walking toward him before I saw his face scrunch up and well before he started to cry, but cry he did.
As I walked toward him in his blue shorts, striped blue and white shorts, and new shoes, I wondered if I would remember this and what I would remember about it. I was happy that I could easily walk over and provide him with the comfort he deserved. I enjoyed watching him be a spectator to all the goings on around him. I was a little upset with myself for not sensing his obvious impending loneliness earlier and I imagined that these were a part of the complex and competing emotions that define parenthood.
I certainly could’ve taken a picture. I have thousands of them already. Some timeless that I’ve framed and will have as long as I can have them and countless others that are in my Mac trashcan because they didn’t properly capture the moment. I think anticipation is the great attribute of the best photographers. Rather than insert themselves into the moment they let the moment unfold in front of their eyes, remove themselves from it, and capture it for others to see.
Henri-Cartier Bresson did this as well or better than anyone else. As someone who loves to look at photos as well as take photos I always feel that I’m making some sort of sacrifice by not participating in the moment when I’m taking pictures. And more than anything on that cool, breezy Saturday night I wanted to participate in the moment. I don’t have a photograph to show you what I mean. My words are barely adequate enough to hint at the range of thoughts and emotions that swirled through my mind and body. Maybe I’m cheating by writing it down, but I want to remember that day, that moment, those unmistakables, for the rest of my life. There was something beautiful and true and honest between a father and his son and I’m left to wonder how important that memory will be next week, next month, next year and whether that memory will remain the same.
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featured image credit: cmiked