Thursday, June 26, 2014


"the photographic shot is one of my sketchpads"
Henri Cartier-Bresson compared his camera to an artist's sketch book. I remember these words at the beginning of another summer and how many summer days I've had in my long life, the season of the first time of my existence. How many beaches and bathing suits, sandy walks, sun tans and waves breaking on shore? Inevitably, I wonder how many more I'll have -- and muse about how photographs end up being all that's left of a time and place.
This one is from the early 1920's. My mother (the pretty one on the right) with her brothers, sister, friends. The young man on the far left (wearing that improbable bathing cap) would become my father more than two decades later. In their bathing costumes they spent summers on the Bronx beaches of Throggs Neck and for as long as I can remember my mother reminisced wistfully about those days.
This may have been the only time of her long life when she felt joy and freedom. Beautiful, young, she bobbed her hair, drove a Tin Lizzie, was sought after by handsome young men and hadn't yet stepped into what was for her a paralyzing role. Marriage, children, not enough education, caregiver to her parents, a life mired in quotidian details. She was rarely happy when I knew her and there was often a faraway look in her eyes. Not uncommon among women of her era and milieu.
In my life I've erroneously stumbled onto some of the same paths my mother took. The difference is that I know I don't have to continue walking them -- thanks to the Feminist movement of the1970's when my eyes were opened once and for all. Thanks to something inside of me that has been described by Buddhists as a river of longing and by others as a refusal to accept things as they are.

what I am looking for, above all else, is to be attentive to life
          Henry Cartier-Bresson

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