Thanks to Cathy Coley and Kelly Warren for this week’s “old friend” entries. Two very different takes on the same subject…
From Cathy Coley:
I’ve reached an age where most of my friends are old friends. I’m not pointing out their age or mine for that matter here, rather noting that I have known them for at least two decades. Anyone who has stood by you and you by them for more than a decade qualifies categorically. I have been thinking a lot on this topic lately. Between Facebook reconnections, and the fact that I am still regularly in contact with a couple of my old Boston buddies after leaving the area three years ago, the endurance of real friendship has really been on my mind. It helps that I was just visiting my old stomping grounds and was able to reconnect in person with a number of people I either hadn’t seen in years, or who I at least email with or talk with regularly. I’ll only mention a few here.
I’ve known one since second grade, 1973-74. That’s thirty-six years. Granted we were not really in contact for many of them, but when we regained contact around our 20th high school reunion, we fell right back into easy conversation via email, and have maintained that for the past five years on a daily basis. Big topics and small, often in the same conversation.
I moved to Boston after college in September of 1989. I met my longest continuous friend then, and another a year later. It took me about 15 years to get the two of them to hang out together, and now that I’m gone, they regularly lunch and shoot street photography together. People who don’t know us really well, are always surprised by my friendships with both of these men, but they are my brothers in spirit. We are very different in many ways, but the essential heart of my friendship with both of these guys is the stuff other people wish they had. We are just there for each other. No question about it. Ever.
When I was a freshman in high school, I made friends with two girls, and the three of us were nearly inseparable for the rest of high school, into college and beyond, we’ve had our times living away from each other, and of living too closely together over nearly thirty years, but to this day, though we don’t talk often, I know when we do talk, the conversation easily picks up where it left off. For now, one of these friends has been estranged for a number of years, and I think sometimes it is too painful for the other two of us to talk knowing the absent one will invariably enter the discussion. We both still feel betrayed, not by her, but by our friendship with her, how we always defended her to others, how we put up with so much nonsense from her for so many years of really tried and true friendship. I think we both still question why we didn’t lift the veil from our eyes sooner, and still hope that she can change, be what we had imagined her to be for all those years, but have each witnessed the opposite. I want to speak with the standing friendship more frequently than we do, but I know, I am always there for her when she needs it, and I believe the same is true for her. Again, when we get on the horn, little gets in the way of our old ways of speaking deeply one moment, laughing our faces off the next, and covering trivial domestic details in the next breath. There’s no need for explanation of background and meaning because we were there when it happened.
Something is to be said for the ability to maintain friendships, or the ability to choose friendships that can sustain all the verities and varieties that life and tests of time offer. Some of it is pure loyalty at work. I like to think I am fiercely loyal. It takes not one, but a series of serious dramas to really test my friendship. Admittedly it used to take a lot more. I don’t have the time or inclination to deal with unnecessary drama in my life anymore. I have enough of my own. I’ve gotten past most of my own even, and that took some doing. But as for friendship, once you’ve got mine, I’m pretty hard to get rid of. I think the rest is about choosing to keep the people in my life who have added more positively than negatively. Those who I know, if I’m ever in a dark alley with a bad guy, they’ve got my back. If I ever get into a whacky relationship, these are the people who will tell me to open my eyes. These are the people I can laugh with the hardest, and who if I cry or wail against the world, will be there to help pick up the pieces, or to tell me I’m overreacting. Hopefully, they believe the same of me, because it is true, I am there for them, and always will be.
From Kelly Warren:
Though I’ve weaved in and out of various art mediums for as long as I can remember, the one thing that has remained a constant for me is photography, my old friend.
I took my first “real” photography course my freshman year in college. This one didn’t include darkroom techniques, just shooting techniques, so I just learned the real basics. My instructor still teaches adjunct at the College that has been my place of employment for the past 16 years! It was for this class that I got my first “Big Girl Camera”, a Pentax A3000, on the right in the picture above. When I transferred to Florida State I was able to take more photography classes, including two that taught me dark room techniques. I can still remember sitting in that little black booth, learning the feel of taking my film out of my camera and prepping it for development in that pitch blackness.
I worked as a professional photographer in college for a company that photographed all the sorority and fraternity functions on campus as well as 90% of the high school and college graduations in the state of Florida. The sorority and fraternity socials were actually the most fun….nothing like being the center of attention at a large party simply because you had the camera! I have to admit, I knew a LOT of people at Florida State (or at least a LOT of people at Florida State knew me) simply because of my camera. I was one of only two female photographers on the staff for quite some time, so you can imagine Evie and I were often requested by the fraternities. Summer always meant grad season and, since Jacksonville was home, I was usually scheduled for all the Jacksonville schools….long days in the old Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum photographing grad after grad as they walked across the stage to shake their principals’ hands.
Shortly after DH and I got married, I upgraded to a Pentax Z7 with built-in flash so I could finally get away from that cumbersome top-mounted flash. When the girls were born, I bought my first digital camera, my trusty Fuji Finepix A-210. To this day, I use my little Fuji to photograph my jewelry for my website. Three years ago, I finally coughed up the cash for my digital SLR, a Nikon D40, near the top of the line at that point! Now Nikon has shot on up the line with the D700 and D3000, waaaay out of my price range. My D40 suits me just fine.
Somewhere along the way at a random antique shop, I picked up the Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex you see pictured on the left here. It’s in pristine condition short of one little part I’m searching for. The Ikoflex was made in Germany between 1939 and 1951, and best I can tell from the body and case, mine was manufactured in the earlier part of that span. I keep it on a shelf in my bedroom to remind of my quest for that missing part.
I have a large camera bag in my closet that contains all my cameras, including all the little point-and-shoots I’ve had along the way, some functional, some not. Just can’t bear to part with them. When I picked the bag up to prepare to take this picture, the weight of it struck me as quite heavy yet very familiar. All my old friends happily tucked away together, just waiting for me to find the right time to break them out again. Kodochrome may no longer be in production, but the images he left behind will be timeless. I think Paul Simon said it best; take a listen.
This week’s prompt: “grade school”
Use the prompt however you like – literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight eastern time on Sunday, August 23, 2009. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly challenge, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 48 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.