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ghost of eden

spring 2021

Antique shops and old forests are my favorite places. Dust floats through the air, catching the rays of sun that gently filter through the windows and leaves. The smell of decaying wood and rain fills the aged spaces. Ghosts live in the brick walls and branches, and if I listen closely, I can hear them whispering. If even only for a second, I feel that I am connected to the world, and my feet begin to dissolve into the earth.

 I wouldn’t say that I am a happy person. For most of my life I’ve struggled with deep periods of melancholy that permeate my innermost veins, filling my blood with overwhelming listlessness. Trapped in the endless routines and schedules of modern life, a hollowness begins to grow in my chest and suddenly existence itself becomes too heavy for my fragile shoulders. Despite the weight, I could be floating, untethered from myself and untethered from the world. But I wouldn’t say that I am a sad person. When the mourning doves coo as the failing light paints the world gold, or when fireflies glimmer in the humid darkness of summertime, I could stay and watch for hours, grounded, breathing in that small moment of joy. The Earth pulls me back down into myself with birdsong, light, and raindrops. Though I am quiet, my presence is loud as my heartbeat slows and resounds throughout the mountains.

 Nature has always been my sanctuary. Some of my earliest memories are of running deep into my backyard, far from my mother’s turbulent voice, and hiding under the thick branches of a holly tree, wondering how long it would take her to notice I had vanished. I was never bored under that tree, watching the clouds and listening to cicadas. Rarely did any tangible thought cross my mind. I only watched, only listened, only breathed. Sometimes it took hours before I heard her calling for me again.

 This past year has been unfathomably long and arduous for everyone. Fogs of bleakness and sorrow have fallen over the world, and people are struggling to breathe. It's no wonder that in a time of stifled breath, I found myself returning to the places I have always been able to fill my lungs. I photograph leaves and rivers, I photograph light, and I photograph myself. Right now, these are the things I cling to in order to keep myself from floating away. I photograph the things that bring me peace, and I photograph my body melting into them. Inside each frame I see a quiet world, sometimes no bigger than a leaf sprinkled by mist. There is only softness beyond those few drops of water, an indistinctness that comforts me in a world that values sharpness and detail. There is a simple comfort in beauty, and right now, that’s enough.

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