I woke up today and my face was sagging a bit. My bones ached. I needed to wake up. And fast.
Our meeting was scheduled at 9am. Sharp. Don't be late. Coffee, yup yup yup. A banana. Brush my teeth. Black pants? Sure. Black sweater? K. Black shoes? Wait a second. Next comes the black gloves, the black coat, the black hat. Snap out of it. You look fine. Everyone wears black in New York. But this isn't New York.
Today was my first day of teaching a beginning photography class. I rented a room. I posted an ad. I was taking reservations. One person replied.
I arrived at 8:30. Nervous. I opened my laptop, sipped the warm joe and reviewed my notes. My student burst through the door at 9:15. His name was Grey. He apologized for being late, his forehead was sweating, he had dark circles under his eyes and he immediately told me he forgot his camera.
Ain't a thing, Grey. I offered him my coffee. With his coat hanging off his shoulder he dropped down to his knees and started to cry. He lifted his head and confessed. "I could barely get out of bed today. My head is throbbing. I am tired, so very, very tired. I'm not sure why I signed up for this class. I don't even have a camera. I'm sorry. I hate myself. And then you offered me your coffee. And I'm sensitive. And small gestures mean everything to me. And I do enjoy looking at photos and daydreaming and thinking of brighter days. Connecting with the world, living outside my head. And you standing there, looking at me, so much love in your eyes. And that's the picture I want to take. Can you show me how to take that picture? A picture of you and me. I don't care if I'm a mess. I want to see how people would see you looking at me. I am pathetic. But I can do better. Promise. I want to be that hope in your eyes."
I unzipped my backpack and set up a small tripod on the other side of the room. Grey held the coffee mug tight in his hands and sighed when he drank. "Oh my god," he whispered. And he watched me work in silence. I looked through the lens and framed Grey on the left side of the image. I imagined where I would be standing. I picked the widest aperture and focused. I set the timer to 10 seconds and walked over to Grey. He brought the cup to his lips and looked up at me. I reached out my hand and began to lift him off the ground.
The shutter clicked.