love people. take pictures. write things down.

photos and words by Caroline

Category: pictures

golden hour

I often refer to my childhood home as my “home home” and it reminds me of the way we would talk about our romantic affections in middle school by saying “I like him…but I don’t like like him.” I love going home home, and not only because with mom and dad money, luxuries such as paying someone else to wash my car or paint my nails are suddenly a beautiful possibility.

I was home home recently, visiting my parents and siblings. The first day home home is like a dream. I wake up at six, excited like a kid on Christmas morning. I scour the house for old articles from the New York Times and make a full pot of coffee because — for once — I am not brewing for one. By seven thirty I have already learned that marriage is a modern indicator of adulthood, why children are drawn to stories about animals who act like humans, and that a new breed of “upscale hostels” are sweeping Europe. By eight o’clock I am driving my sister to school in the Toyota Highlander, honking at a girl who I used to babysit who is now seventeen and beautiful. Abby is wearing her Calvin College sweatshirt for “wear paraphernalia from the school you will be attending in the Fall” day and I feel elated that my younger sister thinks well enough of me to attend my alma mater.

The morning is spent on the kitchen stools, backs slouched over a sunlit wooden table where my mother and I read the paper, drink several cups of coffee, and discuss breakfast options, not deciding until almost 10:00 am, when we eat something that we have agreed is a worthy combination of healthy and delicious.

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I need to have a home home because I’ve moved every year for the past four years.  A year ago I had already relocated most of my possessions to my private apartment located adjacent to the beautiful yellow home of a family of three, whom I babysit for in exchange for a no-rent, all utilities paid apartment. I tip-toed around the place for the first few weeks, waiting until a game of father-son basketball was over before I went out to my car to drive back to the neighborhood where all my friends lived. I slept through alarms without friends to wake me up. It’s been hard living fifteen minutes away from everyone, but I can’t complain — because that’s what everyone who moved fifteen hours away is doing: lamenting the fact that their Grand Rapids life is over, trying to find a way back or a way to stay with these people. We try out other cities — for years even — to return to what we love. And when we are here we talk about leaving.

Even though I had moved my bed and furniture into my apartment when my parents attended my graduation last May, I slept in the house I shared with my girlfriends right up until June 1, when we were legally obligated to abandon the premises. We spend the night of May 31, 2012 on the floor of the living room, surrounded by blank walls and empty pizza boxes. There were also an assortment of kitchen gadgets, a piece of paper with an arrow pointing toward them lay next to the assortment, where someone had written “TAKE ME!” in angry Sharpie. I had no need for 7 spatulas in my new apartment, so I took them and everything else abandoned to the salvation army, a home for the shared items we individually no longer needed.

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I’m now getting ready to move to Easttown, the area of Grand Rapids populated by hipsters, dive bars, coffee shops, and basically everyone I’ve ever met who hasn’t moved out of Michigan. This isn’t even a real move, since I will only be there for two months  before departing on my “grand European adventure”, which I also like to call my “crazy hair-brained scheme that will probably sabotage everything I have going for me in my life.” (But what if it doesn’t?) I went over to see my home of two months last week. The porch is amazing, and the location is prime. The rent is $195 a month, which would make my friends in New York drop dead probably — or move here. I surprised myself when I internally reacted negatively upon hearing that I would be sharing a bedroom. Picturing it, something inside of me recoiled. I thought of my little apartment with space just for me and how I have become accustomed to watching Netflix and eating cheese in bed without fear of judgment and hitting snooze ten times in the morning before I wake up. What have I become?

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Tonight, I am writing alone on the porch of this beautiful yellow home with my apartment attached. Something wonderful about Grand Rapids is that it is on the western edge of Eastern Standard Time and so it does not get fully dark here until 10:30 pm during the summer. Something not so wonderful about Grand Rapids right now is that it rained for almost the entire month of April and all the water caused some sort of mosquito baby boomer generation and they are attacking me and my Sangria. However, I refuse to sit inside because the light is perfect, and light is something I care about. There’s a certain slant, you know? All of this to say: I do love it here. I’m moving again, and like the golden hour, everything is the most beautiful right before it leaves you.

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wyatt & water // adventures in nannying

it has been a very rainy week. wyatt and I embraced the H2o by hot tubbing in a the cold, morning mist and practicing “swimming” (aka blowing bubbles) in the bathtub. his new googles bring him serious joy. we also had several conversations about thunder being the result of God bowling and, therefore, nothing to be afraid of.

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winter visits

Was so lucky to be visited by my lovely and long-time friend Meghan for the new year, my beloved brother and wonderful father in late January, and my joyous and bubbly baby sister in March. In February, I hopped over to Chicago for a weekend to visit with the intelligent and amazing Ian G baby.

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self-taught time management and a line from a book I lost.

This week, I rearranged my room and moved my bed next to the window.  My desk was next to the window before, but I realized that I never sit at my desk. I’m not sure I have ever sat at my desk. I’m not sure why I even own a desk. I sit on my bed to read, to write, to watch Netflix—even to eat, which happens more often than I’d like to admit. That’t the thing about living alone— there is no one to walk upstairs and see you eating Frosted Flakes at 2:00 in the afternoon and ask in surprise/disgust, “Are you eating breakfast?!” Yes, this has happened before. There is also the sad realization that no one will know you rearranged your room or got up at a decent hour to make yourself a brunch of lemon crepes and caramel coffee unless you post it on Instagram.

I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately, because I had two days off this week. Being a nanny means that sometimes you get two days off because you simply “aren’t needed,” regardless of the fact that you want/need the money for those two days. Because all of my friends work “real” full-time jobs, I found myself doing things like getting my hair cut and changing lightbulbs. And moving furniture. All by myself (!) I also took my car in to get a new battery and an oil change, because my last week had been full of the drama that anyone with an old car battery feels during Michigan January. This drama includes walking out of the grocery store and looking around wondering “Who here would I ask to jump my car for me?” This is followed immediately by a quick prayer at the wheel and (hopefully) the relief of an engine roaring to life.  Except for when it doesn’t start, and you call someone to come and help you, because you don’t want to talk to strangers.

I eventually did take my car in to the shop, and laughed when I asked the mechanic if I could pay with a debit card, and he responded by telling me they take “anything but your first born child.” Later, I remembered the car seat in the back of my car (I’m a nanny to a three-year-old) and realized the man thought I actually had a child to sacrifice, if need be. I decided not to correct him in hopes that maybe he would give me a discount for being a single mother. (I was once dating someone who called a car repair shop for me and somehow got my quote lower by saying he was my fiancé.)

It’s been four days, and my rearranged room still feels amazing. I’m not sure why. It could be the bed by the window, or it could just be the change. It makes me feel like I am in a new environment, and sleeping in a new place has been a life-long love of mine. Hence my love of sleepovers and hotels. Isn’t that what is so wonderful about traveling? I know that seeing famous buildings and museums, and eating new foods is very exciting, but what about the thrill of waking up to a smell you don’t recognize, and having to look out the window to remember what is there? I am not a fan of change in the way some people are. I don’t dye my hair blue or dream of having a life where I am in a new country every month. However, I do need a new running route, a new band to follow, a new coffee flavor, a new set of sheets, a new project, even a new friend every so often. My mother always said she could never live anywhere without four seasons, and I completely agree. Nothing makes my heart lighter than the change that comes with those first few warm days of spring, especially after a Michigan winter of frozen car batteries.  I can’t wait to feel the first warm freeze from my bed by the window.

It’s a new year, and maybe that is why I am thinking about change. I think that new years divide people into two categories: resolvers and reminiscers. I am not a resolver. I made one of those photo-a-day albums for 2012 and spent hours making sure the photos were captioned and in the correct order. My only resolution is to be more thankful for the here and now, which is the resolution of a reminiscer. I often find myself having conversations such as this:

me: Man, I miss our badminton class!

friend: No you don’t, you hated that class.

me: I did hate it…

In order to stop missing days gone by/worrying myself sick about the future (another hobby of mine), I should probably rearrange my life a little bit. Unfortunately, rearranging my time and my days is not as easy as rearranging my bedroom furniture. If only I could say, “This week I am going to go to church on Thursday and Founders on Saturday!” or “Today I am going to have fried chicken for breakfast and oatmeal for dinner” and it had the same effect as a night away in a hotel. (Wait–can’t you have fried chicken for breakfast at Chic-Fil-A?)

I once had a book on writing by Annie Dillard. I left it in a hotel. This was unfortunate, because I had a lot of it underlined, and it also because it belonged to my Dad (sorry, Dad.) Regardless, it’s gone now and I only remember one sentence:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

What a zinger, right?

When I reminisce about 2013, I don’t want to think of a life of naps or Netflix or even a life of running. Don’t we want our days to combine to form a life of laughter, a life of learning, a life of nature, a life of love? This is not to say anyone should eliminate pleasures such as television and Facebook and sleeping in on Saturdays. My T.V. shows bring me laughter and my social media connects me with the people I love. I just need to do some rearranging. It might be hard to shove a love of sleeping in out of the way to make room for early morning coffee with a friend, but experience tells me I will feel absolutely feel refreshed afterwards, and not missing my bed or 2:00 pm Frosted Flakes at all.

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recent photography

for a blog with “take pictures” in the title I haven’t posted a lot of photography. Here are some of my favorites from the past month or so. This post is also to make up for the fact that I haven’t written anything decent in a while.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

are we there yet?

When Wyatt’s mother got home from work the other day and relieved me of my nannying duties, I overheard her offer to make her son some pasta. Although Wyatt was excited to see his mother again after eight hours apart, her question caused his posture to drop, face to crumple, and little voice to whine, “Is it gonna take a long tiiiime?”

“This is his new thing,” I commented.

Earlier that day, I had mentioned to the three-year-old that I could cook a pizza in the oven for us to have for lunch, and he opted instead for a microwavable corn-dog, even though pizza is his absolute favorite—the reason being that he has figured out that cooking something in the oven takes considerably longer than cooking something in the microwave. Even as I was placing the con dog on a plate, he was quick to instruct me, “DON’T put it in the oven!!”

Whenever we get in the car drive anywhere (which is a process in and of itself now that coats and hats and gloves are invovled), I can always expect to hear from the backseat, “Is home far awayyyy?”

The farthest from home I take him is to library for story time–which is a whole twelve (!) minutes away. The only way that he doesn’t complain about it being “far awayyy” and it taking “a long tiiime” to get there is if we listen to his favorite country song…on repeat. Right now it is “Hard to Love” by Lee Brice, which I actually (thankfully) enjoy. All summer it was “Pontoon” by Little Big Town and I think it is safe to say that I will never listen to that song again, despite how catchy I thought it was in June. Even though we drive to the library every Wednesday, his brother Will’s school frequently, and the bakery every morning that he wants a doughnut and I want more coffee, Wyatt asks if said location is “far awayyyy” everytime I strap him into his carseat.

It is as though Wyatt has just now become aware of the concept of waiting. He never complained about waiting for things before, but now he seems to be in the inevitable “are we there yet?” stage. When he had a lunch date planned with his grandfather, he said to me, “I want Grandpa to be here” every ten minutes from when I arrived at 8:00am until his grandfather finally arrived at noon. He looks at me as if I am the one who makes things happen. When he tells me he wants to go outside, we go outside to play. So when he tells me he wants Grandpa to be here, Grandpa should be here, right?

I often find myself acting in the same way. I eat dinner when I want to, go to bed when I want to, and get annoyed when people aren’t available to hang out when I feel like being social (which is most of the time.) I am terribly impatient. I don’t have a nanny to whine to, so I tell God, “I want this to happen.” I should probably be working on some applications for grad school, but I can’t seem to get started because I know it’s going to take a long tiiiime. Also, I would rather be out drinking wine or running or porch-sitting at Rachel’s than be home with my computer.

Speaking of which, where is home anyway? Is it the place where I wake up every morning and keep my favorite books and journals?—or is it where I grew up: a split-level with a yellow lab, a giant TV, home-cooked meals and a loving father’s echoing laugh? Is home far awayyy?

Most people figure out the “home” question eventually. When you marry, move out for good, build a family of your own, find a real job, or life throws you some other game-changer in terms of supporting yourself, you have a new place that is home. There is no more in-between stage where you can say “I just got home from work” and “I’ll be home for Christmas” and mean two entirely different places.

Mastering the art of patience is in itself a long-term process. Maybe it’s a combination of the American dream meets “the grass is always greener”, but so many young people I talk with want to be more and do more, but aren’t sure where to begin—or end, for that matter. We are patient until we get what we think we want, only to find ourselves asking again, “Am I there yet?” An artistic friend of mine who works at a photo studio longs for the life of a construction worker, who works all day with rough hands and tired legs. Another creative friend of mine works all day washing windows, and is currently looking to work at the front desk of a quiet dry-cleaners, so that he can sit and read books through the cold winter months. My friend who works as a project manager wants a job where she is not stuck behind a desk all day, and I envy her because she gets to wear heels and pencil skirts to work and contributes to a totally hip local business.

In terms of career and productivity, I think an overwhelming amount of people feel stuck. That must be why there are so many self-help books about being productive and doing more with your life. Because in the 21st century we aren’t patient. We want to get things done, and move forward, as long as it doesn’t take a long time. We could use some patience, and a whole lot of faith, but we continue to chose the microwave. Give me money, happiness and a feeling of self-worth, but DON’T put it in the oven.

descend/knock

when entering woods

(another October is over—)

a woodpecker knocks back, hello

“If only I could give you

the moments I have alone.”

 

maybe, here–

we could get married?

go home, watch movies (in the same bed.)

 

and name our daughters after trees.

 

I am happy here, you know,

with my New Collected Friends.

I’ve taken all of their photographs

(holding their dogs and their dreams)

 

but do you want to come over?

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