I have been told throughout my life both that I am very good at hiding my feelings and that I am miserable at hiding my feelings. I haven’t figured out which of these statements is true, although I suspect both are. Most likely what happens is that when I would most like to hide my feelings I am unable to, and when I would most like somebody to just know what I’m feeling I have it all very conveniently hidden away.
This might have something to do with why, as a general rule, I steer away from t-shirts with slogans on them. And bumper stickers. There is very little of what I want to present of myself to the world that can be summed-up to fit on the front of my shirt. The words reveal exactly too little and too much for my comfort.
But there was one t-shirt I’ve always been sure I would wear, ever since I saw it in a catalog many years ago: If you love me read me a story. If I could change one word it would be even better: If you love me tell me a story.
* * *
Sunday night I walked my mom out to her car to say goodbye. She drove down to visit for roughly 38 hours and we packed it as full as we could, considering the short period of time and the fact that although every day now I feel a little better I am still not fully recovered from my bout with pneumonia.
Her visit was too-short-but-good. Saying goodbye was hard, because there were so many other things I still wanted to say and because apparently you never completely get over just wanting your mom at certain times. But somehow it was okay, anyway.
And the moon—it was so beautiful Sunday night.
So I decided even though I was tired and should go to bed that I wanted very much to try to get some pictures, to capture and hold what I saw.
* * *
My parents taught me, reading to my sister and I every night before bed, that a story = love. The lesson has proved inescapable. Listening to a good story never lost its magic. In fact, each new story I hear connects and builds on the old ones, and the magic only increases.
* * *
I haven’t had much success with moon pictures. I know very little about shutter speed, or exposure time, or even the manual settings on my camera—it’s still sort of new, and so far I have been very undisciplined as I get to know it, content to learn as I go. Most of my pictures are despite any skill or knowledge on my part, not because of. But I got some pictures. Most of them looked from the previews like they weren’t going to turn out. But a few seemed to have promise.
So I stayed up even later to upload pictures. This should have been quick and easy, but I’ve been having technical difficulties. It took forever. My computer was so slow I finally gave up and went to bed. Spent most of Monday morning trying to coax moon pictures onto my screen, hoping they would not disappoint.
* * *
Stories teach me. They change my mind, open my heart, set my hands and feet in motion. They comfort and heal, they tear open wounds, they force open eyes. Sideways, though, not straight-on, which makes them seem gentle for all their strength. They are light, shed or reflected. Meant to be listened to. Meant to be shared.
That sharing—I think that’s where the love is.
* * *
The pictures I hoped would turn out were for the most part a blurry disappointment. Not a single picture I took Sunday night reflected what I saw in the sky. Most of them were out of focus. None of them caught the light and detail I fell in love with, or the tremble of leaves in the wind. Two pictures, though, were clear and beautiful, true in their own way. I have no idea how I got them.
Somehow it is still art, just not all mine.