to mom

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Happy birthday to my Mom,

thank you for every moment from the first day,

for teaching me multiplication (even when I protested),

for making me lunch for 16 years,

for fueling my passions by driving me to photo shoots and the rest of what you’ve done for that,

for never ceasing to laugh + telling jokes,

for still caring and revolving your life around me when I don’t deserve it,

for being a wonderful, selfless mother devoted to her husband and kids,

for caring about what really matters,

and simply for being there for me.

Just thank you. I love you more than this cyber typed message could ever convey.

NYC | subway ventures

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New York, part i

The best way to start my photographic journey through New York is the subways; the trains that brings you into this city and run through every street bringing people to-and-fro constantly. I’ve always like the Subway the same way I’ve always loved airports. I love a group of people all going somewhere, jumping from platform to platform, walking their journeys, yet somehow crammed in a creaky train together. No one really talks but we all hold on to railings, knowing we’re headed somewhere. I just really, really, really like that.

so we beat on

006 IMG_5834 IMG_5855 IMG_5956 IMG_6070 IMG_6071 IMG_6082 IMG_6105It’s spring now. The tulip tree is blooming in our yard the same way it always does. It blooms first but loses it blossoms first as well. It symbolizes the beginning of everything new. It also, I suppose, shows how fast that all goes away. That’s the thing about beginnings, they always have endings. But endings always have beginnings as well, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

The other night I finished The Great Gatsby again and it reminded me of the first time I read it last summer at the beach when I never wanted summer to end. Last time I was on a balcony in the darkness with the sea crashing in the distance; this time I was in the fading sunset by a playground while I read. It was the same playground I went to when I was in first grade. When I sat staring at the empty place, remembering a young me swinging there nine years before for the first, it made me sentimental. The book reminded me of an ending, the playground reminded me of a once-beginning. My personal favorite quote from Gatsby is the simple “So we beat on” from the last paragraph. It sums it all up: The American Dream, life, time. It just keeps on going and we keep on searching. We keep on beating, with the waves of time that will never cease to beat in and out on the shore of this life. There are beginnings and endings and that’s just the way it is. All I seem to write about is beginnings and endings, but that’s the way it is.

It’s beginning now and that’s the way it is.

when the lagoon freezes over

850I got home from New York City last night around midnight. I can’t imagine that only 24 hours ago I was sitting in the NYC airport finishing up The Catcher In The Rye and thinking of how much I loved the depressed Holden Caulfield, while wrestling with not wanting to go home but facing the inevitable of doing so.

Here’s the thing about going and leaving: it’s uncertain. Some experiences leave you with this zeal for leaving you never ever want to forget. New York left me with a so said zeal. That’s why I dreaded going home. I dreaded the uncertainty of such a zeal leaving. It makes me think of Holden Caulfield, dreading growing up. Why? Because it’s uncertain. As he asks the Taxi driver about where the ducks go in the winter, he’s actually asking about himself, “By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?” Where does he go? And in the same way, as I leave one place journeying to the next I ask myself:  Where do we go from here? Where do I go?

I don’t know where I go from here. But I do know that less than twenty hours I finally arrived home, tucked myself in my own bed in my own home, and it all felt good. I thought about the sun reflects off the houses at sunset around Greenwich Village and creak of the Subway rails and thought about  ‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard’. Here’s the other thing about going and leaving: you always come home at some point. And when you do, you realize how beautiful going home can be and you wondered why you dreaded it all along.

When the lagoon freezes, birds fly south for the winter. If they can move on every winter, I can too.

if we are stars, our stories are constellations

IMG_4781I stood in the city one winter night and I watched and I listened.

One girl stood on the street corner and played the guitar until her fingers ached with the same rhythm of her heart.

A elderly man stood on the street corner next to her, smoking. He was Manhattan-born, Manhattan-grown, and he knew he’d be Manhattan-buried.

Another man, seated on a bench, buried his face in his own grief, while his companion sat beside him absolutely silent.

Sitting in a cafe alone, a girl watched a group of kids make a racket jump roping on the street.

Over at a studio down the street, a painter put the finishing touches on his masterpiece while the audience clapped as they know they should.

One boy sat at the street corner waiting for his love, waiting and trying not to think that perhaps she wouldn’t come.

A college student studied in a busy coffee shop, while his sister sketched and scribbled on his napkin.

The small toddler took her first steps on those streets while her mother rejoiced. Down the street, a daughter wept outside a hospital after watching her mother take her last.

I stood in the city that night and realized,
We’re all feeling different happiness and feeling different grief. We all have our own evolving dreams tucked inside our brains, we all have different griefs and joys, and we all have different experiences and opportunities.  Yet there we were: all different but all on one city street together, all humans with beating hearts.  And in that that night our stories eclipsed in a silent way as we breathed the same city air. Stories do that: eclipse to write new stories. If we are stars, out stories are constellations.