Today, an open letter to the one who knows me best.
I want to say thank you. I want to thank you for giving my life meaning and a purpose that I never knew was missing. I want to thank you for giving me a reason to engage with the world and live life outside of the bounds of my imagination.
Before I met you, I was searching. Yet through all the sleepless nights, I never knew what I was searching for. In truth, you and I had met years earlier. I’d dabbled with you off and on through the aging metallic buttons and dials atop my father’s various cameras. He was no shutterbug. But he had just enough of those chrome-plated bodies laying around for me to occasionally run a strip of film through them, usually with the grand artistic goal of capturing my dog, C.J., in extreme states of sprint or slumber.
Like many a childhood friend, it wasn’t until after college that we reconnected. I may have had more hair on my chin by that point, but I was sadly still no more in the mood for commitment. If I weren’t already dating your sister, cinematography, you and I might have never reconnected at all. I loved her. I still love her to this day. But that cinematography, she is no cheap date. So, I always appreciated how you allowed me to learn a few of the family secrets while not breaking the bank.
Despite all this, I still resisted. Perhaps “resisted” isn’t the right word. It’s just that I overlooked you. I took you for granted. I’m only human, after all. So, when you re-entered my life 10 years later on an impulse buy, despite the fact that we had met before, you were like a breath of fresh air.
You encouraged me not just to sit in my room and dream up a life that I wanted, but to actually go out into the great outdoors and actively live it. After all, as has become so blatantly obvious to so many other men and women in these times, there’s only so much one can photograph around the house.
You forced me to engage with the world and the diverse people who inhabit it. You taught me the value of teamwork. You taught me the importance of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. You reminded me that getting better at something doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s more often the result of slow and tedious hard work to make small steps forward littered with more than one or two unexpected steps in reverse.
You not only gave me artistic fulfillment, but you enabled me to feed myself in the process. It’s one thing to scrimmage with friends on the weekend. But to be able to play real games and sustain the life you’d always dreamed of is the next level of good fortune. You provided that to me. I’ve loved a lot in my life. But, you? You loved me back. I’ll never forget that.
And even now, as this world we inhabit has gone topsy turvy and so many of the activities you and I enjoy doing together are suddenly off-limits, there’s still no other partner I would rather have by my side.
You know, when the first word of the outbreak began to trickle its way into the news, I remember there being a story about a couple. The cruise ship they were on had been quarantined, and this couple was confined to their small cabin, unable to leave even for fresh air, for over 30 days straight. I remember jokingly thinking to myself that, by the end of those 30 days, they will really know for sure whether they were meant to be together or not. No matter how strong your bond, that’s a lot of time to be forced to share a small space with another individual. That has to strain even the strongest of relationships.
A couple of months later, the rest of the world now finds itself confined to a similar measure. I may not have a wife to be locked away with. But I do have you. I am grateful. And I’m reminded every day that our bond is stronger than ever.
No matter what the world throws at us, having you allow me to continue to create my art. I can still speak my truth. Having you allows me to continue to express those parts of my soul that words so often cannot fully understand. The financial reward may have paused. But the emotional reward can never be taken away. We may be in business together, but our relationship is about so much more than just business.
You are there for me. You provide my life with meaning. You provide my life with passion. You are a part of me. And I am forever grateful.