POV: Seasons.

Monday, November 18, 2013

POV ("point of view") is a 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.

I met Emily while writing my first piece for Rue Magazine three years ago. Since then, she’s shot the photographs that have accompanied nearly every feature I’ve contributed to date - and we’ve become friends.

I can point to one afternoon in particular that seemed to propel our friendship forward. It was October, last year, and we’d just wrapped a daylong shoot at a downtown loft. We stopped for coffee at Saturdays on the way home.

We sat on the bench at the front of the shop, in a patch of sunlight that did little to fend off the 5 PM chill. We talked about the changes that were happening in our lives. “I'm having a transformative year,” I said (I was saying this a lot then). “I’m learning to be alone.” 

You seem different, she said.

I was. She was, too - transforming, that is.

Before we parted ways, she took a picture of me. My head is turned. My brow is furrowed. I’m dressed in black. There are shadows everywhere, and my eyes are cast downward as if closed completely.

It occurred to me recently that it was around this time last year when I began to feel myself changing with the season. It was getting cold and the leaves were blushing, and I was single and making new friends and finding new happiness in exploring my neighborhood.

Once a homebody, I was suddenly compelled to spend as much time as possible out of the house. I’d wander the streets and wile away hours in bookstores and coffee shops and city parks. Start conversations with strangers. Stay out til sunrise. 

I barely recognized the person surfacing, but I liked her. The seasons - fall, then winter, then spring, then summer - felt new through her eyes.

Now that it’s fall again, it’s startled me to realize a year has passed. I recognize the cold and the falling leaves, but we weather seasons internally, too. Life still feels new and surprising, but this autumn feels, for better or for worse, quieter, less dark, less charged at every bend in the road with blinding epiphany.


Last Wednesday it snowed, and Emily and I holed up in the downstairs cafe at the Standard Hotel in Cooper Square. We ordered coffee and croissants and huddled in a corner booth. Outside, passersby stared at the clouds.

We considered working, but talked instead - about new work, new art, new friends and relationships. Life had moved fast, it seemed. We were steadier on our feet and I wondered for a moment if this was somehow less interesting than where we were a year ago. It was a fleeting worry.

We remembered last year’s October afternoon. Emily searched her phone for the photo she’d taken of me that day, scrolling through what appeared to be miles of archives. Moments later, she found it, in all its troubled, shadowy glory.

It was, according to Instagram, fifty-four weeks old. 

"It’s our anniversary,” Emily said, and as we readied ourselves to leave, she took a picture. 

In it, I’m smiling. My hair is loose. The lights are on. I’m wearing white. My eyes, though puffy from the morning and the cold, are open.

You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, hereThank you so much for reading, as always! Photos via Emily's Instagram.


max said...

inspiring. and the ending gave me goose bumps.

Sarah Noel said...

Shoko, you are stunning.
Your face is radiantly beautiful. And I just feel like I know your soul through your words--it's gorgeous too.

LeeLee said...

I love this series.

Heather said...

Beautiful post (and photos), Shoko! Glad to hear this autumn feels exciting and surprising, yet less fraught with emotional ups and downs. Enjoy! :)

dee said...

love this. i have no adequate words to tell you what a beautiful post this is. ok, maybe i just did. ;)

Paw said...

What a difference four seasons and one photograph make. I'm waiting for the book, by the way. So many possibilities.

Panda Head said...

dug this, so much. happy anniversary, to YOU.

Akiko said...

Such a beautiful inspiring writing, shoko. You look stunning in the photos too-- xo akiko
Style Imported

--- said...

these posts are as always, my favorite. you are such a beautiful soul.

Camila Faria said...

It's amazing how different you are in each picture. A very beautiful and inspiring post.

Sam | ashore said...

shoko, you verbalize something so well that I've often (though also fleetingly) feared: "We were steadier on our feet and I wondered for a moment if this was somehow less interesting than where we were a year ago."

thank you for writing it.

dakotabee said...

Every time I read one of these I seriously envy your story telling ability. Such a nice post, xo!


Cassie @ Witty Title Here said...

Both of these photos are stunning. But the first one in particular radiates—just like your words on the page (er, screen) do. :)

Raquel R. said...

I think that life is a succession of unique moments that are often ignored or taken for granted. Yet, they make us what we are today. Your writing capture those moments beautifully.

angela said...

It is nice to reflect on seasons of your life, and so perfect that you have a wonderful photographer friend to record them!

joeycake said...

love the transformation! and also, the beauty in being in process.:)

Melanie Yarbrough said...

Beautiful. That last fall you describe, the new you, I had an experience like that. I was single and had been for a while, but I was seeing it in a different light because my closest friends had found somebodies. I spent a lot of time out of the house, alone, and I remember feeling worried and troubled about it, though knowing I was stumbling somewhere instead of just sitting still. That was how I comforted myself. And I now I look back on that time fondly, knowing that I reacted to my situation in a necessary and positive way, though it felt far from it then.

Thanks, as always, for sharing.

Jocy said...

This is achingly beautiful!

Anonymous said...

awesome. so inspiring.

Shoko said...

Thank you all so much. i can't tell you how much your kind words mean.


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