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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! 

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