POV: Captured.

POV ("point of view") is a new series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.
The afternoon of Memorial Day, Megan and I lay in the grass at McCarren Park. She read a book. I tried to write. Moments after we settled, a plastic bag blew by, landing at my feet. “A tumbleweed,” said Megan, and took a picture. Minutes later, I photographed her shoes, buried in dandelions. We both snapped shots of leaves, rays of sunlight, blades of grass. 

Nearby, a man lay shirtless on a blanket, strumming a guitar. His girlfriend, in a lace-up poncho with fringe, spun circles around us in rollerblades. The air smelled like soil, like summer. The sun burned our eyes and we let it.

I’ve always felt an urge, an anxiety, to record things. When my family moved out of our house in Hawaii years ago, I took videos of each room in painstaking detail. When we traveled, I’d take notes - the color of the car we’d driven, the position of my chair at the dinner table, snippets of conversation as my brother and I fell asleep in strange rooms and strange beds.

Moments like these seemed fragile, fleeting. Like something sacred.  And, always a scatterbrain, I didn’t trust myself not to lose them.

I recently spent twenty-four hours at a cabin in the woods upstate with forty other people. It rained all morning and all afternoon, and when I arrived, I spent hours lounging on a sofa by the fire with Lily, daydreaming.  Around us, our friends played music, punted a soccer ball around the room, lay in drowsy heaps on pillows on the floor. Others combed the wilderness outside for cicadas. Smoked cigarettes in the mist.

At night, under a clear sky, we explored the woods. We found an abandoned cabin that we decided was haunted and climbed through a window to investigate. Later, we lay on our backs in the dark and marveled at the trees. I ran through an open field in my rain boots. Danced in my socks. Listened to myself breathe.

It was twenty-four hours of perfect moments. In the morning, I looked through my photographs and found I’d barely recorded any of it.

I wrote last year that someday, I’d like to fill a book with memories, with moments “that hold weight, and magic, and stories.” I thought about that as I lay in McCarren Park, taking photos of grass, the pages in Megan’s book, her toes sticking out of wooden clogs.  Years later, I’ll remember what that afternoon looked like, but will I remember the smell of the air; the girl in fringe and the sound of her wheels spinning; the sun in our eyes? 

Some things, I’m finding, aren’t meant to be relived, or recreated in words or pictures or stories. They’re inexpressible. That’s why they’re sacred.

They’re only ours.

You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, hereThank you so much, as always, for reading! 


Anonymous said...

Someone told me once that when I travel, I should try not to take pictures. But no matter what, I always find my camera glued to my hand. I must be trying to relive those moments, but you are right, many of them are sacred. Not meant to be relived but lived in that precise moment in time.

Again, so much inspiration in your words. Hope you are having fun with that precious little one! He won't be little for long...


Dienesa said...

I love your train of thought here. I recently moved into a new apartment and have been in the process of unpacking the past couple weeks. My journal was buried somewhere in all the packed boxes, and I had a weird conviction not to record anything until I found it. In the interim, I have had some lovely brunches, farmers market mornings, and friend-moments I so badly wanted to record.

When I randomly opened a binder and found my journal tucked inside, it was like a reunion, an invitation, an open door. But there was also something sacred about the memories of moments in the past two weeks that I had not written down yet. Sacred--that really is a great word for it.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, as always. I feel like we could be great friends. I long for the kind of friend I can have long conversations with about life, conversations that aren't interrupted by kids or dogs or husbands.

tara said...

Beautiful Shoko. It's so hard to let go sometimes and just let things happen without documenting. Especially when you think "but what if I forget?!?!"

I love this.

angela said...

It's the quiet moments that can be most special and real. Lovely writing!

Anonymous said...

beautiful feet! :)

Shoko said...

Thank you so much!

Dionesa, so beautifully put. I know what you mean.

Brianna, I agree - I'm sure we would have a lot to talk about!

Raquel R. said...

Love the way your words unveil the uniqueness of everyday moments. Lovely!

sherry said...

well said, as usual. love your writing.

Mel said...

These have quickly become my favorite reads, my favorite pauses in my day to reflect and relate to you.

Shoko said...

Mel, that means so much to me. Thank you.

Ciara said...

I love this so much, Shoko! I'm not very good at recording, and I'm not very good at remembering either. I'll remember the important parts, but not all the details. When I went to NYC two weeks ago, I filled up an entire field notes with every detail of my trip. I didn't want to lose a single moment of my trip in my fragile memory.

ann said...

I love these, Shoko. You're inspiring me so much to write again; I miss it so much.

Sarah Noel said...

I love this idea and your writing is truly beautiful. It's really refreshing to come across a blogger who paints such vivid pictures with words--doesn't just rely on design and photos (though your photos are great too). I saw Bri (designlovefest) tweet this post, and I'm so glad. Excited to read along with your new series.


Sarah Noel said...

I love this idea and your writing is truly beautiful. It's really refreshing to come across a blogger who paints such vivid pictures with words--doesn't just rely on design and photos (though your photos are great too). I saw Bri (designlovefest) tweet this post, and I'm so glad. Excited to read along with your new series.


Shoko said...

Ann, that's so sweet of you to say. I'm so glad to hear you're writing (or will start soon)!

Sarah, that's a wonderful compliment - thank you so, so much.

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