There are all sorts of perfect days. At times in my life, sleeping in past 8 a.m. was all it took for the day to qualify. Now, as my life has evolved and that luxury is available to me whenever I wish, a perfect day requires more than merely languishing between the sheets of my all too comfortable bed. It most always involves Chuck who, after all these years, is still the person with whom I want to spend most of my time, an important distinction from the person with whom I spend the most time. Our quiet life together has suited me now for nearly half of my years, and after my father died, it became untenable for me to consider living another minute under some other roof and so I quit my job and moved home, a decision from which I have never faltered.
On this perfect day, we arose as we always do, early and quietly. He made his unique morning concoction, an irreplicable blend of coffee and ghee and other essential ingredients that invariably smooth the transition from laying to standing. The sounds and smells emanating from the kitchen stir me from the bedroom and I rise to address the day. Once released from the hold of that profoundly comfortable bed, I start attacking all the things that are stationed in piles on my studio desk or go for a long walk, or look at photographs, or read, or, as is often the case, count my blessings of which there are many, varied and true.
This day starts with promise, new and bright with fanfare and validation scheduled towards the early hours of the evening. Today, we will leave our idyllic seaside home and travel north to Los Angeles to celebrate the opening of a new show featuring one of my photographs. It is another from the collection of underwater shots I made while visiting my friend Mark. He is a dolphin, agile and lean, as happy, if not more so, in a pool as on land and generously gave me access to his fluid and slippery wet world.
These trips are always fun for me. Of course, they are. Why wouldn't they be? I have worked hard to achieve these moments of validation, these instants of seeing my work on another wall in someone's gallery. For me, it is much less about the competition and more about the measurement of progress on a continuum of my own making, the one that takes me from the life I used to have, and forward into this new photographic one of my own making. It is a different type of work from that to which I am accustomed \working as I did for all those years in corporate offices and meeting rooms. This work is inspiration and perspiration in various measures, different than the prescribed-by-others recipe of my past life. This one is centered in what I see, what I know, and the measurement of progress is the recognition of others, teachers, mentors, and gallerists to affirm I am on solid footing, a righteous path, a photographic life.
Initially, we had planned to make a weekend of it, but instead, we chose to make the trip in a day, return and sleep in our bed. The idea suited me fine having returned recently from a great adventure to Utah with two of my dearest friends. Instead, we would make the drive, revel in a perfect late lunch somewhere and attend the opening at an early enough hour that we could be home before the sun dipped below the horizon. Having changed course, we had no firm plans, no reservations, no time commitments or constraints, just the point of embarkation, destination and return.
As luck would have it, last minute searching resulted in little choice for lunch other than my long time go to of the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. I love their garden restaurant and have so many memories fixed within its lush greenery I could fill a book. There was the deck from which I hung, only to get caught, on the eve of the purchase of my monochrom, the table where I had lunch with Sam in the rain, the afternoon we ate there with Arnie and Virginia after the workshop and saw Usher yet again.
As we were seated in the central core of the outdoor space, I on my amorphous settee and you solidly placed in the nearby wicker chair, I noticed that the place was surprisingly empty. The day was a glorious one, bright sunshine with cooler than expected temperatures. Any other Saturday would find this inner sanctum filled with anxious tourists hoping to catch a view of some Hollywood starlet. I remember once, years ago, choosing to have lunch in this place with dear Sam for the romance of it, and the fact that the establishment forbade photos and I would, therefore, have his undivided attention. I sheepishly asked our waiter if it would be permissible for me to take a few photographs. I wished to immortalize the balcony from which I received that severe reprimand from the manager, or the corner where I lunched with Sam on that rainy afternoon, or the places where Chuck and I had so often sat over glasses of champagne or cool rosé, as we did this day. Without missing a beat, I received assurances from the waiter that on this empty afternoon it would be okay to pull my monochrom from its place in my bird's nest of a bag and take a few shots. And so I did.
The conversation and wine flowed in equal measure and in our relaxation we talked about all the things that couple's need to discuss but find hard to do within the daily rhythms of their lives. As it was this afternoon and has always been, your calm and clear view removed roadblocks, relieved pressures, and detailed more suitable alternatives for our life together. I smiled knowing this to be the gift you bring to our relationship, and as the afternoon slid into early evening, I marveled once again at how lucky I was to find you at the bottom of that escalator, in the roundabout, in Seattle, all those years ago.
Before long we were headed to the gallery and the opening. What struck me on this night of honors and substantiation was how vital it is to have witnesses that believe in and share the joy with you. I noticed it first with the man sitting on the steps head in hand and wondered what he might be feeling amidst all these creative people trying to make their way to an artist's life. Was he there to celebrate someone? I noticed the father and daughters who were so proud of their mother's work, work featured in the window of the gallery, that they stood in the blinding evening sun to take her photograph. In his hands iPhones and Barbie dolls, his daughter touching the glass barrier between her mother and her, the mother wearing the simple name badge that confirmed her as a contributor to the show. This scene I take in and digest while considering the profundity by which you have supported me through my photographic life. Afterall, it was you who put the first camera in my hand, patiently looked at photo after photo, and encouraged me on those rainy mornings to get out of bed and go out with my camera.
On this night, all come together in a cocktail of accolades and appreciation for which I am humbled by the deep understanding that none of this would have happened without you as my life partner.