It is such a strange day today; hot but boggy and overcast. Fog horns dedicating songs to each other on the river out of site from my position on the bed. Lightning hits once or twice here and there by letting it’s aggression out only for the purpose of attracting someone’s attention. To catch you up, I have developed 12 rolls of film that I had in my fridge a few days ago and to appease my peaking artistic frustration, I have decided to only open up one at a time to maximize the effort put into writing about each roll. You see the 12 rolls have accumulated over the past 7 or 8 years and for some reason or another I did not process them, until now. Some may be from the same trip, some may be memories that I have moved on from and some may be of nothing more than just a day out shooting. Regardless of the content I will post four pictures from each roll and keep each roll as a separate blog post.
There, the first four images.
It must be weird for my friends here in Detroit to see me standing next to a girl whom I loved in the photo above. Doesn’t matter her name but for the cupids stupid record (one that I wish wouldn’t remember it’s previous guest lists) it is the same name as a common flower found on a hill. The type of hill you would pass while driving in a dream only to remark to yourself as you pass it, “That is a beautiful hill”. You might have even scurried as you saw the hill coming up to get your camera on and pointed. But by the time you had it ready, the hill passed forcing your eyes to glance from responsibility and the road ahead to the rear view mirror and hill, growing smaller as the feet pass you by.
At the bottom of the red film package (the type you get at a one hour photo store that you need to fill your name and everything out) lay 12 rolls of uncut negatives, each with a number on the outside. I chose my first roll and opened it up. With each roll I have to split the negatives into sections of 5 to fit on my scanner bed. I was my hands first so to not soil the surface or the negative with oil. I can not find my scissors so I grab my knife and head to slice the negatives. As I cut I try and look at the inverted small photographs in my hands as I try to remember where I was with her. Her outline, face and everything is always instantly recognizable to me when looking through negatives. I begin thinking what we could have been doing that cold DC day in January. I think I remember it as windy and cold making the two of us angry. I place the negatives on the scanner, click the preview and watch as they come up one by one. Each driving a steak into me at first glance but my defenses that I have trained with for the past five years drive that steak right back out again. Girls reading this, in my imagination anyways, might say, “oh Stephen is still in love with this girl from the way he is talking about her”.
If I were to drive past the Washington Memorial a week ago on my way to Georgetown or the National Art Gallery I would have told you I never had been up to the top to see how the capitol looks from what some call a bird’s eye view. So when I saw that photo of The Mall I was amazed because even though I see the photo I still don’t remember being there.
So why the word “Split”? It is odd how life works out sometimes. So planned but so random. The two beings I have loved the most who are no longer with me is my ex-girlfriend and my dog Pete. Half of the roll was with my ex-girlfriend and half was me and my dog Pete near the rivers the mark West Virginia. To read about Pete I will insert a previous post now…
I had a dog named Pete who was the best dog in the world. Pete and I went everywhere. His mom was a springer spaniel and his dad was a one night stand. He looked like a rot but had the body of a spaniel. Pete got hit by a car when he jumped out of my lap in the car we were in and survived. I think a Pulitzer Prize photo was missed in 1992 as me, a 10 year old Boy Scout, short shorts, merit badge sash and all, ran back from my moms parked car to pick up my lifeless dog only to walk back holding Pete, bloody head and all, down the street in the cup of my arms, to take him to the hospital. He survived brain surgery for 1400. Pete was the Houdini of the animal world; able to get out of any dog cage built for canine/elephants/whatever and could open a fridge, a sliding glass door, a gate, any type of garbage can and a plethora of other locks and doors. He ran away, often, and came back, most of the time. He once ran away, then got picked up by a dog lover who posted signs, and then ran away from them, and then got caught by the dog police and we did not see him for 2 months. One last ditch effort i walked around the largest dog pound holding 560 cells in the southern part of Vegas. It was a square block with dogs looking at me on both sides. And sure enough, the very very very last cell, there was Pete, curled in a ball, accompanied by his least favorite relative in the dog world; the shitzu. By the handle a sign was posted, “Mutt to be exterminated 5/11…No owners came for him” . The date as I stood there was 5/12. “Pete” I whispered. His head lifted and turned and the nub of his spaniel tail moved three times. He had grown old in those two months in the slammer. His wisdom serving hard time was shown with the greying of his whiskers. He lifted his paw to the the cage to meet my hand as I was kneeling. I could not believe it and I cried. “150 dollars” the dog policeman barked as I told her my Pete was to be set free. The person who was supposed to put Pete under was sick the day before. As Pete’s life went, I would have expected no different. We walked out to my 1985 Jeep and it was like nothing happened. Pete’s nub tail shook his body in excitement as we approached the jeep and I said, “Dammit Pete, get in the car” like an old friend. I put on his driving glasses and we were off.
Pete was put to sleep 3 years ago this month. I spoke my last words to him over a phone before he was taken to the doggy hospital by my parents who could not watch him suffer throat cancer any more. The doc said the best thing, “If you can think of the best 5 things your dog loved to do and he doesn’t love to do them anymore, it is their time to go”. Thanks for reading about Pete. He had a friend named Maggie, a big black lab. But that is another story.