The Practice in Profound
Profound moments. They’re delivered in the most metaphorical and simple of ways; that’s why I love them so much. I love seeing someone’s life defined by a room or a photograph. I love seeing quiet pain funneled through picking flowers in the morning or making Eggo waffles. I love seeing tedious longing in simple passions, like knitting or collecting vintage stork embroidery scissors. We, as humans, communicate by often times not saying anything at all. The Wild Morning has been so full of these moments. I want to tell you about three of my favorites.
One of the first woman we photographed was very, very pregnant. So pregnant, she wasn’t round, her belly was shaped like the nose of a plane. She moved very slow and felt extravagantly calm. I love pregnant women that way. Here, let me get you tea. So accommodating...internally prepping to bring life and hold it like a baby bird. Her home was beautiful too. She poured her decaf in a large kitchen with high ceilings, hugged us next to her wooden sign that read “Live, Laugh, Love.” She took us to her bedroom that was dashing with jewelry and a silver comforter. I wondered if she was younger than me and then admired her maternal gloss. She was sheen with it, kind and enduring. We talked with her while she put on her makeup and her daughter woke up. She cradled her and spoke softly. She apologized for the little mess she left in her bathroom with eyeshadow and blush. She asked us if we’d like more coffee, and cream, that’s in the top right shelf to the left. She made her daughter Eggo waffles, warmed her syrup, and let her read while she ate. They prayed over the Eggos. I wish I wrote down what they said. But, I was the butter melting in the waffle pits. While she was pouring more cream in her coffee, she looked at us and told us about her deep, deep depression about ten years ago. For some reason, all I remember were her hands; folded over Eggo waffles. “This is a really intimate time, in the morning,” she told us after that. “You don’t realize it.” And I cried all the way to work.
The second very profound moment I remember was a rainy Tuesday. It was a summer rainy morning in Minnesota. My car windows wouldn’t stop fogging up and the grass was so green it looked blue. Again, we were meeting a girl we never met. I was equal parts nervous and excited, like I usually am before Wild Morning(s); ready to be enlightened. She answered the door in a towel-robe, with dewy cheeks and tired eyes. She said she had just been listening to music in bed, so we joined her there. I stood in the hallway to keep out of Dave’s way, but heard her talking about her routine. She was so soft. “I typically do this breathing exercise. I’ve never done it in front of anyone.” Accounting on it now, all I remember was her breathing quickly and rhythmically, then bursting into tears. But they didn’t seem painful, the tears. They felt like a spring rain, the first that melts the dirty snow. There she was, right there with her feelings, exposing them like they were a firm handshake. The bravery in that simple gesture felt empowering and true. I didn’t feel bad for her. I knew nothing about her - what she was going through. But her vulnerability meant everything; I saw strength.
And the third profound moment. One woman requested we arrive at 4am. We were more than willing, as we don’t ask questions. Some women work out. Some work. Some don’t sleep. We’d be there. I could tell she valued her privacy like a pearl necklace the minute I met her. She spoke well and told us things but savored her secrets for her own. She was drinking Bailey’s, watching horror movies, and working through files of work when we arrived. She talked to her cat Trinidad about his late night snacking tick and I felt suddenly, deeply close to her. This was interesting, because it usually takes me a while to feel this for someone...hear their story. But this woman...her privacy felt secure and valued. But her truth felt deeply raw, even though I knew she wasn’t going to tell us anything at all. She did tell us one thing. She told us about her grandmother. “My grandmother was a remarkable woman,” she said. “She was beautiful. Nobody ever made her do anything. She didn’t cook...clean. She was what you’d call a parlor girl, just play piano for neighboring churches when pastors came in to visit. I felt bad for her because she didn’t do anything besides this. She grew up in segregated Charleston. She was very fair-skinned so she’d take the bus...go into town and model as a hat girl for a day...didn’t tell anyone what she did. She was so fair skinned, she could get away with it; come back with some pocket change. She was an amazing and complicated woman; didn’t understand the world around her.” And that made me sad, too.