i’ve moved so much in my life that i’ve become accustomed to things disappearing. i used to be wistful about objects, but i can’t think of anything i’m banging my head over. i’m haunted, though, and have been for over 13 years, by the loss of a documentation of an experience. i took a photograph one night just north of providence, ri during a trip with a carload of artists and other miscreants to a reservoir. it was deep summer, hot and misty, and i felt on the verge of finding something out about myself. we swam in the reservoir, the dark sky expansive, our clothes and my glasses and camera on the pebbled edge. i barely knew my swimming companions, but envied their artistic freedom, their casual way of moving through the world.
on the way back to the car, word spread that the cops had found us out and were on the hunt. we scattered into the park, i crouched down in a grove of trees, and took silent cues from another refugee, a guy who was well known and kind. the adventure of it excited me. we waited for a while, then slowly crept back to the parking lot, breaking into a run to the station wagon. i looked back and three of four others were jogging towards us through the night haze. i quickly took a photograph with no time to read the light meter. on the way back to the city, we got stopped by the cops, who took down all of our names and looked askance at the few of us sitting in the wagon’s trunk area. most everyone gave cavalier chuckles. nothing happened.
i developed the roll of black and white a few days later. something happened. a light leak? i misjudged the developing time? i accidentally open the camera back? a third of the negative fades into white, obscuring half the figures. it’s unprintable. i don’t think i even got the focus right. it’s a failure of a documentation of an experience that i hold onto. the memory is brighter than the image, yet i still mourn the absence of the photograph.
The Glass House Conversations begun by Jordan Stein