Thursday, March 10, 2011

In Other Words....

Sometimes your own words don't tell the story. You think about a story, a place, someone special, and you sit down and try and put it all into words. On some days it just flows. Others, you feel like a plane speeding down the runway, overloaded with bananas and oil drilling equipment, destined never to get its wheels off the ground. And there is a third possibility: that someone else, quite apart from you, will put it all into those words you couldn't find. Back in January, we spent New Year's with Kerry in Stone Ridge, NY, a rural community between Kingston and Newburgh. Each time we drove to Kerry's house, at the last real Stop sign, I'd see this beautiful barn. Red, worn, regal, needing a little TLC, but quite stunning. We'd always be driving to or from somewhere, with intent, and I never bothered to bother my driving mates to stop the car and properly shoot a picture of the barn. On one trip back from the market, we stopped, and I determined that the likelhood of ice cream melting due to an additional 45 second layover was nil. I grabbed my CX5 off my belt pouch, fired a half dozen frames, and drove on. That day, in some sort of New Year's style artsiness I'd set the camera to a square format (i.e worlds tiniest Rolleiflex.. or, if you will... worlds tiniest Yashica-MAT.) I posted the picture on my Facebook page, and a few days later had a note from an acquaintance, saying she loved the picture, could she buy one. I wrote her back that I'd be happy to make a print for her ( a nice 11x14 as it happened) and sent it on. As usual, this took a month or so, and she just finally got the print about a week ago. Two days ago she wrote me a note which summed up her feelings about that picture, and in many ways of her own life. It's quite beautiful, and I share it with you, as her words are so elegantly more captiving than my own. Thanks T.


I wonder when you stopped to take the picture if you were thinking of me. I am sure you weren’t. How could you have known that all my life I have been looking for this barn? This rustic red barn sitting solitarily in a field--- not connected to anything, but standing for everything.

I never lived in a barn. I only imagined what it would be like to have one. I lived in a house with 3 brothers and 3 sisters and I shared a bed with the youngest. It wasn’t an interesting house, it was just four walls and a roof with perfunctory windows, as little as zoning allowed. It was a mess all the time, stuff strewn everywhere and noise filled corners and crevices when actual stuff did not. It was like that every day, crowded, noisy, smelling of fried baloney--an economical meal for a family of 9.

Maybe I saw a barn on tv and fell in love then. I don’t know. Maybe I drove by one in my life. All I know is that I loved the idea of a red barn. The richness of the red such a contrast to our boring white suburban house, the wood that fits together on the outside, each piece unique. Inside our house we were all the same. Mom used to call us by the same name most of the time, searching to remember the real one she assigned to us at birth.

When I saw your picture, the picture that you stopped to take for some reason, wherever you were, I recognized it. I knew it was the one where I dreamed I would have my first kiss in a hay loft, where my horse would be waiting for me when I entered with a carrot in my hand. I knew it was the one where my sisters and brothers would play hide and seek, where we would decorate at Halloween and all the neighbors would come to admire our work.

You found my barn. My deep red passion. You found it and you knew someone would recognize it. You saw its beauty. You knew it meant something to somebody. To me, it means so much.

Thank you for knowing that this picture might be the only way I ever really get my own red barn.

1 comment:

sdee14 said...

Lovely photo and lovely letter. I've set this photo as my computer wallpaper!