One year ago today – not to the date, but to the day – on the Friday before Spring Break, college leaders met around a huge table in the Foundation Board room and discussed the threat of COVID-19. We would extend spring break by a week, long enough to allow faculty some time to revert their courses to a virtual format. We prepared to hunker down for a month or two, or possibly longer.
Well, we all know how that turned out. Exactly one year later, our community’s positivity metric has finally dipped below, and stayed below 5% for weeks, and there are three vaccines being deployed across the U.S. My dad gets his second Moderna shot on Monday. Mom and I will get our second Pfizer shot in about a week. My husband had the Johnson & Johnson shot, so one and done. And Amelia starts school five days a week on Monday.
The college is preparing to begin reopening, and it’s likely I’ll be back on campus this summer… definitely by August. This thing isn’t over yet, but the end feels like it might finally be in sight. And that’s good, because I’m exhausted. This year, I’m taking spring break off work. I’m going to spend 8 days with my kids and one in the darkroom.
As I settle in tonight to begin said vacation, I can hear the insects and other wildlife singing outside. Time “springs forward” tomorrow night. Spring is almost officially here.
“I am good at a lot of things, but great at very few.” That’s what the voice inside my head always tells me. When it comes to my art, especially, I have a serious case of imposter syndrome. “I’m not good enough.” “Other people can do it better.” “It doesn’t speak to anyone but me.” “People who say they like it are just trying to please me.” “Why don’t more people like it?” The self-doubt runs rampant.
Yet, I feel the need to create. I’m a good writer, but I don’t have the attention span to maintain interest in a story long enough to write a novel. I love to paint and draw, but – and I’m not being self deprecating here, just honest – I don’t know what the heck I am doing with a paintbrush or a pencil. I am not tone deaf and have a pretty good ear for music, but my voice cannot carry a tune to match and I never successfully stuck with learning an instrument.
My one constant has been my love of photos. Nothing lasts forever, you see, except a photograph. It started with home photos, snapshots and selfies throughout my formative years – a way to remember the moments and the people who helped make me who I am today. I never took much stock in the quality of the photos or the process of creating them, but I documented everything so I would have it forever.
In college, I took the requisite visual communication classes for my journalism degree, and held my first DSLR in the student newsroom. I admired my friends on the photo staff and marveled at the way they portrayed the things that were happening around us. When I graduated, photography became a component of my job – but it was less about the process and more about the subject of the photos that went with the stories I wrote as a local journalist.
A photographer friend and mentor of mine used to tell me I had a good eye, and ever since then, I’ve worked to improve my camera skills so I could make the pictures I see in my head of the beauty in ordinary things and in the people I love that make my life worth living. I’m still learning, and I always will be.
After the crazy year that was 2020, I needed an outlet. In January 2021, I began taking a film photography class at Lewis and Clark Community College, and I fell in love. The hands-on process of taking a photo without the crutch of the digital screen, and the tactile process of developing the film, then enlarging, printing and perfecting the photos in the darkroom, fed a part of my soul that has been starving for a long time.