Admittedly, I’ve taken quite a few “field trips” to my hometown (Cleveland, Ohio) and surrounding area. As I grow and change as a person, I find I get more and more out of these returns home. My relationships with each of my parents and my brother, who all live there, each become more nuanced with time. I have grown to appreciate them immensely, and the relationships are flourishing!
When I go “home” to Ohio, I like to do things I don’t often make time for in my usual bustling city life. This recent trip, I baked cupcakes, and helped my mom plant new flowers and ground-covers in her garden. I always take lots of walks down the long, straight rural road on which my parents live, listening to the roosters crow, feeling the air on my skin, and watching the clouds move across the sky. It is the time when I remember most acutely to slow down, to just be.
This trip, I hosted a photo event at my parents’ residence, featuring the delicious treats of Honey Hut ice cream. I also had the pleasure of photographing the senior pictures of my young friend Olivia – who I used to babysit when I was her age! And, I photographed my mother’s friend Arthur, with his wife, in their home on the east side of the city. So, although I was soothed by the natural surroundings, and the somewhat slower pace, it was, indeed a working field trip this time. I got to see some of my cousins, their kids, and some of my mom’s siblings. It is unusual for me to get to see so many of my relatives in a single weekend, and there was something deeply comforting about feeling part of a large family again. Not that I am ever not a part of it, but sometimes the chaotic, constant motion of city life distracts me from truly connecting with what it means to be part of my family.
Perhaps most special about this trip, was an evening visit with my Uncle David. He had twittered me (ah, modern family life!) a few months back to inquire as to when I might be home, and was sincerely interested in my life and my pursuits. David has always been a person I greatly admire – when I was young, he would tell me all about his travels to Egypt, and he is one of the smartest, most educated people I know. Not to mention, one of the kindest. It touched my heart that he had specially requested to see me at this time – you see, he is in a time of transition. He has accepted a prestigious position at a university in Austin, Texas, and will be soon relocating to a new life down south. In my experience, transitions are a time when we want to express our truths (perhaps prompted by a tangible time-frame in the otherwise never-ending-ness of “someday I will…”), and I could feel that David was recognizing the we way share a zest and curiosity for life. It felt wonderful to have someone point it out to me.
It was hard to leave the beautiful, long summer days in Ohio, where it doesn’t get dark until close to 10 p.m. in early July. My parents nurtured me with their constant loving support, helping with my shoot, and doing everything they could to make sure I was comfortable and happy. It dawned on me, they have always done this. I am deeply loved.
I wonder if everything that happened had to happen for me to have this sink in. If I had to go off to college, to move to New York City, to start my own business, to travel, to see the world, to study, to explore spiritual practices, to read about psychotherapy – and keep checking back in with what was truly my “home,” the place I came from, the people who believed in me the most – in order to finally arrive at the place where I could feel the love that has been there from the very start.
I just want to say thanks to my family, the whole, big lot of them, for being the wonderful, kind, loving souls that they are, and for supporting me, even when you thought I was crazy.
To view photos from some of the portrait sessions in Ohio (as well as other recent shoots), please visit my online proofing gallery at http://pa.photoshelter.com/c/sloboda/gallery-list.