Had I not already booked time in Australia I would have had to without warning- because every moment I was there was telling me that this is exactly where I needed to be and exactly what I had to be doing. To be with the families I watched become families over almost ten years, the children I became “Auntie Jillian!" to- and then to have the bonus of being with their extended families for days on end. Summer days…days of clarity and calm that meant I could leave complete.
The night before I left for two weeks away, I realized my Mamiya was completely broken. Why I insisted on carrying it around the Twitter Christmas party only to drop it out of a small handbag I don’t know. This was the first time in over a year I would travel without it, and while I was momentarily heartbroken, I decided I would just need to find plan B. I took the Polaroid and six boxes of film.
In these weeks I figured out the math of distance, how to clean rollers, that heat eats exposure to the point of no return, and that airplanes will kill a pack of 100 iso after four or five flights. I learned how to master counting seconds for exposure with a four year old sidekick, and that six packs of film that can’t be purchased overseas were absolutely not enough for two weeks. Peel away Polaroid became a good friend, and these photos have since become pieces of home for me- snapshots of some of the greatest moments in the book of my history.
I spent the 24 hours before I left with my little brother and his girlfriend as we crossed paths for just a day. We toured the city and had a fake Christmas with Jenna and Sam. As they read and sketched around my house, I felt so proud of the little boy I once carried around and taught to roller skate who has become a man- a gentle young man who let me cry on his shoulder, who talked and listened like an adult. It was a perfect way to say goodbye to home for a few weeks.
I arrived in Queeensland on Christmas morning, embracing the lush tropical desert where I had three nights with Jodie’s huge, incredible family in the summer sun.
A bit more about these few days of glorious solace is a few posts down.
Ho Ho Ho - thank you very much for the rum can and Rudolph enjoyed the carrot. See you next year, Santa.
I learned about “Queenslander" homes. This one was next door. How pretty are blue roofs!
A bit of special Jodie time at Tambourine Mountain
Exhausted after our long flight to Perth from Brisbane, Mischa sprawls on the floor in her dramatic loveliness.
I spent the next several days at Jodie’s near the beach, writing and reading and talking, playing with the children and eating seafood, drinking iced coffee and rum, watching the sun set and the moon rise from a couch on the deck in the evening heat. It’s as magical as it sounds.
swim and lounge time with Karli
Karli and I spent New Years Day wandering around Rottnest Island, surrounded by the crystal clear Indian Ocean. The film was fried and we chose the only day it was cool and rainy, but it was wonderful anyway.
craggy coral rocks
Karli is on a reef where sting rays loomed!
Mischa wasn’t satisfied with my photographing her on the trampoline. She wanted me to tell her all about my camera first, and then she wanted me to jump with her. So I stripped down to vintage undergarments and jumped until I felt that priceless childhood freedom, until Mischa got mad that I was jumping too high and asked me to go slower and hold her hands.
Taking a photo with a completely manual camera from the 60s is extremely challenging while jumping several feet in the air. I had a headache for about three hours after this. But well worth it.
And then Victoria. Nothing can change what I feel when withThaedra and her parents and siblings, their Greek heritage a nostalgic reminder of my Great Grandparents shouting around the house, the love and the cooking and the playing and the calm, all under one roof by the sea.
These days of doing nothing meant everything- they were easily some of the best days of my life. The beach where Poema held on to me and trusted me while waves crashed on our heads, long talks with Ellie, Zoy singing and doing ballet throughout the house, fresh caught fish and their parents who I love…Thaedra glowingly pregnant with her second while Poema danced around at our feet, melting my heart again…
And of course I ran out of film which had nearly melted and turned white by the end anyway. There were more beautiful things to capture and a hot day with friends in the city before I headed home. There were fights about foot angles in dancing and debates about celebrity politics, loud conversations about wine over homemade french fries and cases of sparkling water. It was heavenly. It was all home for the moment, and a home I will always go back to.
Listening has never been so right.