Some people like to take photos of their food before they eat it.
I LOVE FOOD. But I don’t usually photograph it.
This is because I usually eat while in transit. I have a piece of toast while walking to school because I woke up late, some Wendy’s chicken nuggets on my drive to the airport because I forgot to plan time for dinner, even a granola bar in one hand while the other hand steers my bike to work. So much of what I eat comes from a little package I bought at the store or a vending machine at school. And even if it doesn’t, there’s just not much beauty to photograph in a hurried piece of toast.
Still, I am very intrigued with these foodie beauties (clever rhyme!). I understand that they love what they make, even though it is gone an hour later. I understand that there is something beautiful about what you choose to put into your body, or the time you spend preparing literal sustenance for your family. This will help them move and live. This is your loving contribution to them. To you. To life. You want to display it with your camera as your form of art. I get it. It’s not my thing yet, but it’s a cool thing if it’s your thing.
What’s my thing?
I love to watch people.
As much as I’d love to proclaim that I am always a PARTICIPANT IN THE ACTION!
…I am so often an observer.
I like watching all the cowboy boots and hip sweaters rush across campus on their cell phones. The people in the grass reading books or taking naps. The guys spittin’ game at the ladies outside the library. The people trying desperately to hand out AS MANY fliers as they can to promote their club/event/cause. I like stopping to read all the posters and reminders and advertisements– not so much for the information as for the colors and fonts and choice of words. I love to wonder what the girl in the car next to me is feeling as we sit at the red light and I see her head down on the steering wheel. I love to pray for the people running along the sidewalk in the chilly air, when I know that hill must be tough and I admire their dedication. There is something about watching other people that teaches me about who I am and how it would feel to be someone else. What matters to me as I’m sitting at the red light is that I am a part of the things around me.
I am fascinated by the way we intercept one another. The photo of your dinner is now being re-pinned by someone who only intends to make toast tomorrow. The girl you flirted with at the library today is your future wife. The hopeful song in your headphones as you walk home from school is the same one your professor will sing along to this weekend as he drives to visit his children in another city. Your quarters are sitting in a vending machine right now with someone’s golden dollar they saved in their wallet for years before they just got really hungry and spent it on some M&M’s today. That loose change will later become some college student’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger when her roommate insists on getting out of the apartment because she’s heartbroken over the boy that used to flirt with her at the library. Your shoes are stuck to a graduate’s gum that they spit out while walking their dog, because the flavor was fading and they needed to speak to their boss on the phone without sounding like a commonplace gum-chewer that walks their dog in the middle of the afternoon. Your second-hand reindeer sweater that you bought at Goodwill for the Tacky Christmas Party last year was carefully made by a homemaker of the 90’s. She got those jingling bells on sale at Michael’s and sewed each one on carefully so her mother could have something pretty to wear to the family party on her last Christmas Eve. For fifteen years after her mother passed, that sweater set dormant in the homemaker’s closet, and was finally cast into the donate box by an ignorant, well-meaning daughter. Now it’s been immortalized on your facebook page, mocked for how ridiculous you and your friends think it looks.
This is not an attack on themed parties. This is just me wondering about real life. I know we are all part of the story. I know we are and I feel it so much as I watch it all go by me. I wonder: How do I fit into all of that? I’m shivering here in the computer lab, wondering how all these people around me are doing. What are they thinking about as they sign-in to identical computer screens? Am I un-knowingly following them on pinterest? Do they eat toast on their way to school? When was the last time they resigned to rest their heads on the steering wheel at a red light?