Another Day Closer to You

Another day older, as are we all (And now you're even older. And now you're even older...). As a kid I was fascinated by the fact, which I recall each year at this time, that as time passes our differences in age also pass by. The little sister who seemed so small, the neighbor kids who seemed so big, those differences, though stuck in our minds, all fade away. Older or younger, our ages are a silly little limit equation:

limit(your_age/my_age) = 1.0

...as our ages crawl steadily towards infinity.

All this is my elliptical way of saying that it's been my birthday again, overshadowed as always by the much more famous birthday on the 25th. Today the lead story on the news: "people are going shopping" (a much finer 26th than last year's). So I joined the fray and bought a few simple gifts for myselff, exorcising a few ghosts and making ready for the New Year: towels, washcloths, and most of all a new set of sheets.

My best gifts: my unreturned phone calls resolved (dead cel battery over the long weekend) and a long conversation in the evening with a new friend at the casino.

I think I can append to the entry from yesterday, because this evening's encounter reminded me of something more — of how much I love stories and vivid characters, and how absolutely terrific it is to have them right there, not in a movie or a book but in front of you, as part of your own life.

Being single lets me have that to a degree that I think few people get when they are locked-into a steady, exclusive relationship. It's amazing to me that I can sit down with a random woman I've hardly met and have a direct, connected talk with her in a way that I never could with a man; or for that matter with a woman, outside the context of, for lack of a better word, attraction. A common interest that can drive people to be open and that drives me to be genuinely interested because: they are genuinely interesting.

To a degree I think that the feeling I get, meeting and connecting, is very close to the feeling that I most desire when making a portrait, though engaging through very different channels and for different goals. The portrait: surface, immediate, still. The conversation: under the surface, full of memories and with a narrative flow. Yet both with the common element of connection, and both — when done well — lit by the radiant presence of another person.

I am glad that I've mastered the art of ignoring all the standard resumé questions: job, car, do you like trip-hop, and so forth. The Good Stuff - the emotional connection — is never on the resumé. Maybe a next step in my growing skill set will be to figure out how to better incorporate my camera into these meetings, without somehow breaking their addictive spell.

December 26, 2005

 

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