Words use to follow me when there was red residue on my lips and liquid sloshing around my glass. But then I stopped drinking. Words use to follow me when the creaking of the inside of the moving bus became a soothing lull and I fell deep into daydreams when I was lucky enough to get the window seat. But then I stopped taking the bus. I picked up running to invite the words back into my head but they drowned in a flow of endorphins that reminded me of the time old saying that writers are sad tortured souls. How can I write when I have depleted every torturous quality a writer thrives in. I remind myself to write in my journal even when I am happy. Because for obvious reason, that is when I neglect it the most.
Whenever I think back on a year, I can visually see it in chapters. Chapter Bali, Chapter Graduation, Chapter New Home. When days start to blur together and moments get filed away in my mind making room for new ones, the Chapters help evoke my personal definitions of change and growth. I acknowledge the tragic chapters many have had this year and hesitant to celebrate my own achievements but I was reminded that light illuminates brighter when it is striving to find itself in the dark.
I remember the exact moment I wanted to be a writer, the exact feeling when I got into art school, the exact day that I got my first camera. All moments heightened at my mental command. The combination of graduating, creating photographs in exchange for money, and not making time to write are all products of lacking to create solely for myself. I use to loathe having a prompt to create in art school but now I realize that simply creating anything at all was better than the contrary. That while I am too busy photographing other humans and their stories, every chance I get to give myself and my camera a break, I take it. While leaving the humans in my life and my story untouched and neglected. I was struggling in art school in finding myself, my niche. I realize now I knew exactly who I was, a woman who was always searching.
I had striven to find myself in personal projects this year, creating a tribe of females to empower one another and traveling to Scotland to ignite independence creatively. But I came back from both more frustrated than when I had started. I was angry at myself for no longer experimenting, I was angry at myself for no longer creating at a whim. That the urges and impulses to create had subsided and naturally because I had let them. I found myself comparing my work to other artists in an industry I didn’t care to be competitive in. The feeling was obsessive and consuming especially because I didn’t care much for it in the first place.
Although days were filled with frustration and self doubt, I was always able to return back to my body and feel a sense of deep gratitude for having frustration and self doubt in the first place. Two emotions that only pushed me further into my photographs & my words.
I am also deeply grateful for so much this past year. For the humid heat in Bali that created tension. The turquoise waters in Candidasa that created intimacy. The talk about life together in every body of water around the island. And the togetherness in moments of pure strength and weaknesses amidst traveling with another human.
I am grateful for seeing something through till the end. For consuming chocolate cake naked while my pride is plastered behind me on the wall for the sake of art, for the sake of creating. For finishing something I never thought I would. For looking down at my mother’s face while I walked across that stage as they called my name. I am grateful for art school and all that it has naturally and forcefully instilled in me. Grateful for ending that day with my people.
I am grateful for my person. I am grateful for the beginning of a new home with a partner I see an undeniable beaming light in. A home I am proud of, a home created together. I am grateful for this human choosing this home with me, over and over again.
I am grateful for that coffee shop who let me write for hours while rain was pouring itself onto the streets in Edinburgh. I am grateful for the complete meltdown I had in the highlands of Scotland for feeling lost and forgotten within myself. For forgetting all that is around me immersed in the grand that is Glencoe. I am grateful for the glasshouse filled with plants and flowers whose names I cannot pronounce reminding me what is it to grow in any climate or change. I am grateful for the words come home. And certainly grateful for that I’ve got a garden of solo travels, a garden constantly growing but also a home to call my own. Grateful for a balance so flourished.
I am grateful for the copious amounts of figs on my birthday, the embrace of social anxiety, the foraging and gathering of friends in the backyard, and seeing my photographs hung in the coffee shop I spent all my time in. Grateful for pushing myself up Cloud’s Rest along with some needed help. For the courage in taking the leap into my first year as a full time photographer. For collaborating in Portland, swimming among waterfalls in Ubud, fasting in Edinburgh. I am grateful for it all.