I don’t think I’ll be taking any new photos any time soon. I don’t feel up to it, I’m very sad and disappointed in my abilities and life in general I suppose. Maybe it’s just that I need this period in which my head does nothing but ruminates with all sorts of memories connected with the person that has been by my side for as long as I remember and is now gone, or maybe I’ve just had enough of useless battles that I can’t possibly win. Sometimes it took me all the energy in the day to produce several photos that I considered good, which in turn ended up being more than average in comparison to what I could see in numerous blogs here and places elsewhere which discourages me in no time. Sometimes in turn I think that the only things I know how to do somewhat well or I actually want to do is write about something, take photos, draw, grow flowers… but I’m not great at any of these things nor they can secure me some living. Yet without them I don’t know who I am at all, now more than ever I feel extremely lost in this life.
On the day my father died, I ran out of paper to copy some documentation Mr. very efficient undertaker required for the funeral. I was totally lost and confused as where to look for paper in such a situation, and my mom opened the right drawer and said “Here you are”. No, not that paper, those are some old photos wrapped up in an old office paper cover, I replied. Oh I am sorry, she said and brought me the right pack I needed. When the undertaker left, I wanted to put the photos back into the drawer but instead I sat on my bed and took them out to see what was inside that cover. Those were the photos I took while still attending an unsuccessful life episode at an art college where I had among other things one semester of black and white photography. I used my dad’s old camera and another one of that old generation that we bought together at a photo fair, I loaded them with films for black and white photos and later personally developed those films and produced photos in a dark chamber at the college. For the end of year’s exhibition I had two collection of photos – Belgrade – buildings vs. nature and Belgrade cemeteries’ tombstones. They had some success, but in the end it all ended up covered with dust together with everything else in my life. I knew more or less what I was to find in that cover and it disturbed me, yet I put my hand inside and pulled out the first photo. Strangely enough, it was a photo of Jesus from one of the tombstones. It made me shiver and cry all right. The second photo after Jesus was this one – mom and dad sitting together in one of Belgrade’s beautiful memorial parks, dad smiling and passing a bottle of water to mom. There is some very positive special atmosphere trapped in that photo taken 9-10 years ago, yet it seems that decades have passed since those very special times in which we were a much happier family. This photo is special also because it was taken after my quite impressive recovery from the second violent PD outburst, while my dad still had both nerves and strength to drive me out everywhere to conquer agoraphobia. At first it was quite hard to go to these lessons, but he would drive me and even wait for me, I think that he was glad that I grew more and more interested in photography. It was one hell of a job for me to prepare those films for developing, because that is something that must be done in a room without even a single shadow of light. You have to open the camera in total, absolute darkness, take the film out relying only on your touch to guide you and insert it into a developing vessel so that you don’t miss its guides that separate layers and layers of film from one another without seeing a thing. When the film is properly inserted into the vessel and properly guided in concentric circles, the vessel has to be tightly fastened with a lid and only then you can come out into the light again. Should I mention that this procedure is among the worst anxiety sufferers’ nightmares? You’re trapped until the end of the procedure in total darkness. You don’t see a thing, no matter how hard you try to open your eyes. Trapped plus temporarily blind plus scared of destroying a precious film, equals panicccc… usually, in other situations you can run away and retreat even if it means to embarrass yourself. Running away from such a situation would mean opening the door and exposing the film to the light, which in turn means… bang! and all your work vanishes into thin air. I remember tons of panic and I remember how it subsided, slowly but definitely with each new film I took out of those cameras. The joy of seeing good shots that I captured would eventually overcome the pains that were needed to get me to that place.
So, all in all… this photo is in memory of my dad, but it’s not only that I took that shot, I carried out the full process to it’s end – developed the film, bought the paper, worked in the dark chamber to expose the paper to the necessary light to get this picture, put it into developing and fixing solutions and left it in the dryer till it was ready for others to be seen. Now it was scanned and turned into pixels, I’m just sorry that I don’t have a better scanner. I shouldn’t complain, because how things are right now it is highly improbable that I’ll see another one in a very long time.
I hope dad is happy somewhere there where he is now, smiling like this. And I hope he’s less lonely than mom and me. His favorite gardening magazine arrived today, it was very late this month. Too late as it turned out. We were at the cemetery today and we carried it with us. Unfortunately, there is nobody to read it any more. It was the 4th time that I went to that grave in 10 days, but it still doesn’t seem real. I still think with some corner of my mind that he’ll appear from somewhere and wake me up from this nightmare, even though he died on my very hands. Then another morning comes and my stomach that turns into a painful knot reminds me that there is no waking up from this reality. It’s too damn hard… dear God, help me find some way out please.