Sunday, March 02, 2008

A thousand words

Well, there you have it. In an attempt to get back into the bloggy swing of things, I dashed off a succinct and, I hoped, dreamily poetic post last night.

You know what I made? Gobbledygook, that's what.

Brevity and mystery have never been my friends. And so I go running back into the warm and comforting arms of long-winded rambling. Ahh...

The target of my wordiness today? Pictures. I'll start with this one, taken two years ago:

In our vast virtual album of photographs snapped by the papparazzo-in-residence (that would be Trey) and Dallas' favorite family photographer (that would be Jen), this picture is noteworthy because it was taken by an outsider.

Two years ago, for two days, we took a leap of faith by volunteering to have our life, warts and all, recorded by a complete and total stranger: a budding wedding photographer from Pennsylvania named Nicole Polk.

Participating in a highly regarded photography seminar based 'round here, Nicole drew as her assignment: us. For forty-eight hours, she pointed her camera in our general direction while we went about our daily routine.

Changing a diaper: Nicole was there.

Playtime with the muppers: Nicole was there.

Enjoying an afternoon snack: Nicole was there.

Nursing twin toddlers: I'll spare you the photographic evidence, but trust me when I say that Nicole? Was there.

It was long. It was exhausting. At times, it was grueling and it was life-altering.

For Nicole, anyway. For us, it was just life, with a chaperone. And at the end of the experience, we got these amazing snapshots of utterly ordinary moments that we might have otherwise forgotten.

Like, for example, what it felt like five minutes before Trey got home from work.

Or why it was that toilet paper was always, always on my grocery list.

Nearly the best part of the whole experience was meeting Nicole, although I fretted for months afterward that we'd irrevocably scarred her impressions of parenthood.

So when I received a call last week from esteemed photographer and workshop organizer Huy Nguyen, asking if we'd be willing to volunteer again, I ever-so-coolly allowed that, sure, we'd be interested.

And then I did a happy dance of glee in the middle of IKEA.

Which was followed, ninety seconds later, by a rather prolonged anxiety attack.

Because the dig is this: unlike our talented friend Jen, who deserves a medal, a satin sash and a jewel-encrusted crown for using every trick in the book to try to make us look good when she photographs us, the workshop photographer is instructed to catch the nitty gritty.

The wrinkles. The sweat. The tears.

And oh my Lord, hold my hand: the clutter. I would somehow have to hide the clutter. Which, in this house, is not unlike trying to hide an enormous pink elephant wearing a party hat.

In addition to that exceptionally real concern, lurked the fear: what strange photographer would walk through our front door on Tuesday morning? We'd felt so fortunate to be matched with Nicole; surely, lightning wouldn't strike twice.

Enter Kerry Ryan. Who just happened to be the nicest guy, possibly ever.

Father of three. Seattlite. (Seattlist? Oh, fine: Washingtonian.) Seriously mellow adventure junkie.

Polite. Respectful. Professional. Genuine. Caring. And utterly unruffled by our shenanigans, even whilst running on three hours of sleep and indescribable peer pressure.

We put him through the paces and dragged him all over town; he didn't blink. Soccer practice. School. Starbucks. Lunch, the grocery store, even an audience with a former president. He snapped it all, or as much as he could.

It will be a little while before we're privy to the photographic results of his brief visit. But it will be a great deal longer before the kids stop asking, "Where's Kerry?" or before Trey and I forget his kindness.

He came into our house as a stranger. But by the time he said good-bye, a mere forty-eight hours later, he'd been made, totally without his permission, an honorary family member.

And for now, at least, I'm out of words.
Enjoy the silence. It's only temporary.


Blogger The Nanny said...

Wow. What a crazy adventure those two 48-hour-periods must have been. I know if it were me, at the end of a day of all-day nannying, my makeup has run down my face in streaks and I've got pit stains, food stains, poop stains and, inevitably, another stain that I can't identify. I'm not so sure I would have been able to let someone photograph that. You are a brave woman! (Or at least a woman with longer-lasting makeup, tougher deoderant, and neater kids...)

I look forward to seeing those pictures!

11:51 PM  
Blogger anniemcq said...

This is the coolest thing ever. I have a camera! could I come and take pictures of your life? I used to be a Seattleite (and yes, you used the word correctly!), and I promise to make the clutter look artful.

Honestly, a while ago, I realized that if I wanted to take pictures of my family, I would have to make my peace with clutter. You are going to treasure those photos.

And I must say - an audience with Bill? I am soooo jealous!

This is brilliant, miss. I love your writing so much.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Nicole Polk said...

Aww... I would spend 2 days with you guys all over again! I wish I could see what you all are up to in your daily routine now and see how it's changed and stayed the same. Hope you are doing well. I'm great! Just got engaged last week in Maine! You can see a couple pics on my blog if you like!

7:43 PM  

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