I take pictures more than I used to. I wish I was better at it, but I don’t care to improve. No picture I take could ever fully explain why I take them. Some photographers, the famous ones you always hear about, are said to be able to capture a personality, love, even scent. But they never met you.
I have tried and will continue to try to truly encapsulate moments. Just the other day I grabbed my phone before walking to class and took a picture of you. Your face was pushed into my pillow, your cheek and nose scrunched up, mouth slightly opened. The smooth curve of your bare shoulder was just peeking out of the covers. Through my phone screen, I can see your slight frown and your perfect nose. But the flat screen doesn’t show how the sun caressed your skin, how I could smell your perfume from the day before. It can’t show how, out of the corner of my eye while I was taking the picture, I could see the sweatshirt you pulled off in the middle of the night because you were too hot. It can never express how I wanted to pull the covers over your shoulder to keep you warm; how I didn’t because I know that you wake up easy. How I kissed your forehead and whispered goodbye.
I have another photo, from the day we first met in person: you are sitting on your bed. Your hair was longer then, scraped into a ponytail. You wore a tie dye tank (the one I always smile at when you wear – and you smile back). You had tiny shorts on and fun socks. Your smile is wide and I hope I can keep it that wide for a long, long time. But the picture, no matter how much I love it, is incomplete. It doesn’t have a tiny caricature of my anxiety in the back. It doesn’t show how nervous and terrified and madly in love I was. Nowhere in that picture is a personification of fear that I would kiss you or hold your hand and fuck everything up. Nor is there a small angel on my shoulder reprimanding me for thinking (constantly) about just how short those shorts were.
But photos and modern technology are a gift aren’t they? I am reminded of this when I see a photo of my laptop with you on the screen. You are in the unforgettable black frame with the red phone and gray buttons. Your hair is tucked behind your ears and into a smooth-messy ponytail, two perfect strands of hair framing your darling face. But still, the photo can’t capture how intently you are working on your knitting. You just got the needles and yarn for Christmas and you’re trying hard to not drop any stitches. Which means I am left to my own devices. Which means I have taken about 30 pictures of you during this so far five minute conversation. My pictures can unfortunately never fully capture how I can’t stop smiling and how I know my jaw will hurt later. Or how you look up at me with your eyebrows raised into your hairline. Not even the smile you give me, followed by the immediate frown and pouting when you realize I have been taking pictures. You pout because you ‘don’t look good right now’. That’s one thing I think the picture can actually show – how gorgeous you are.
Not even videos can do you justice. I have one of you bouncing around the apartment in your pretty pink robe. You are singing along to a song that you have been listening to all day. Little did I know I would be listening to it for another week and thinking about this very moment. You are dancing manically and your hair, now short and purple, whips around, hitting your face. Your eyes are shut tight and you mouth along to the words. But not even this captures the moment wholly. It can’t show how your feet sound stomping against the cold floor and rug as you spin around in a circle. It doesn’t show how just after the video ends you pull me up out of my chair and spin me around. The video ends before it shows how you smile so wide and pretty with your Invisalign in, and how when you sing you have a lisp that almost matches mine. It doesn’t show how you pull me in to kiss me and or how I grab you and pick you up and spin you around while you laugh and demand to be put down. I comply. Reluctantly. Or even how while I slide my hand up your side and under your robe just as the song changes to a slow beat.
“That was really well timed.”
I honestly didn’t even notice the song change, I was too busy with other things. I tease you about it after.
The myriad of videos and pictures never show how you kiss me, soft then completely enveloping my entire being. Or how when you smile into my lips I can feel your teeth. Or the smell of your shampoo. Or how I cried over the phone when I missed you and you started crying too. Or how you tap your cheek with your eyebrows up when you want a kiss, and when I take too long to see you, you clear your throat until I do.
I think I’ll be trying for the rest of my life to take these moments and coax them, shove them, yank them behind bars and be able to relive them whenever I please. So far I have been unsuccessful. I guess that’s what makes moments with you so special, not being able to keep living them over and over again. But until I get to relive them for the rest of my life, I suppose I’ll have to keep making them with you.
By Emma Compton
Word Count: 1000 words