"Dear Mark Tucker..."

 

well, maybe it's just the day. what day?
today. the day before my youngest son
gets married to the woman he loves. he's
20. he lives in Michigan, where the
wedding will take place tomorrow afternoon.
i'm 43. i live (for the moment; it's a
moment-to-moment existence
right now.) just outside of Baton Rouge,
Louisiana in a trashy trailer
park filled with good ol' boys, the tough
women they love, and their
children who will grow up someday...if
they're lucky. i'm only here
temporarily (i tell myself this lie, which
may be the truth, i'm not sure anymore.)
having found refuge with my father from
a man whom i lived with off and on for almost
2 years, and whom i turned in for
physical, mental and emotional abuse of his
daughter, and also for selling and doing drugs
in front of her. i left the day after the
police came and hauled him off to jail for the
night. the day i turned him in (for the second
time. the first time no one seemed
to be very interested in protecting his child
except me.), he threatened to kill me. well,
he stated he would kill me. he chased
me from room to room, tearing phones out of my
hands and off the walls until i was able to punch
out 9*1*1 and get some help.

long story, huh? more info than you needed,
too. i guess i'm trying to say that i can handle
a lot of things. i've been through a lot of things.
some of those things i thought were going to kill
me while i was going through them, yet here i
sit, breathing and living. tomorrow is another
one of the things i feel will kill me. not being
able to be at my son's wedding is a powerful
pain, like a punch in the gut that doubles me
over sometimes and stops my heart for a moment
or two until i remember to breathe again.

so maybe it's just the day, maybe it's just my
mood, but you know something? i know that's
not it. i have loved photography all my
life, starting with Life Magazines that lay
moldering in the basements of relatives,
and just about ending when i had to pawn
my 35 mm Minolta 350x for gas money a
year ago. never got that camera back.
they gave me, ironically, 35 dollars for it,
the bag, a couple of lenses and (though i'm
sure they didn't know this or they'd have given
me less.) my soul. i know excellent photography
when i see it. i've spent most of my life trying
to emulate it and been mostly unsuccessful.
oh, i have an eye, i know that, and i have a "voice",
i've been told, but there is always just a little
something off in my photographs. just one thing,
maybe two, that keep them from making me
sigh, "oh, i did that one just right..." there's a
picture of my dog on my web site. i took that
one. i liked that photo almost as much as i loved
that dog. the dog and the camera are gone, but
the photo remains, all that's left of what i once
thought of as myself.

but i digress.

your photos are amazing. maybe you hear that
all the time. maybe you even believe it yourself,
but i hope you don't really. i hope you're like me
when someone tells me how beautiful my voice
is. at first when i started singing to actual people
instead of just my sons and the cows and a dog
(not mine, but my ex-husband's family's dog.)
named Mr. Phoebe, and the people (complete
strangers in bars; how odd, i'd think to myself,
that people actually would tell me these things.)
would go on and on about how well i sang, at first
i'd try to talk them out of it, never believing they
could actually truly think i sounded good. but i
stopped doing that after a while for two reasons:
one, there's no accounting for taste, and two, it
is rude to tell someone they have no idea what
they're talking about when all they're trying to
tell you is how much pleasure you gave them.
now i just say a simple, "thank you," and smile,
keeping to myself all the things i heard myself
do wrong. does it keep me humble? i don't know.
i'm a much better nurse than i am a singer and
a much better singer than i ever was a photographer,
so i guess it probably has to some extent.

but your photography? i don't have words. maybe
after reading this long you get the idea that i usually
have words for every single thing, and that's usually
true. but here i've spent all these words trying to tell
you that your photography has left me speechless with
its beauty, and i still don't think i've been able to
convey just how deeply they've touched me. so i'm
going to say it's because i'm one of the saddest
women in all the world right now, what with my baby
boy getting married in a big church wedding and me
unable to be there, and what with the present chaotic
condition of my life at this particular time. yeah. that's
what it is. that's what's left me feeling as if i'm
seeing little pieces of your own soul in those
photographs you took and have on your web site.
(though i'm sure that even if all the above were
not true, i'd still be seeing that in them.)

so. a long rambling email which is trying to
express my appreciation for your talent and
your gift with the camera, from me to you.

denise

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