I walked into my first photography class feeling very old and feeling very alone.
It was weird, this feeling, of not having my son and my daughter with me. I had gotten very used to life with the kiddies. Grocery shopping meant there were four extra grabby hands with me. Car rides meant kids songs and not the radio. I walked into the classroom and my first instinct was to run towards the door and head home to my babies. There were about 15 people scattered around the room, and several of them already seemed to know each other. I wanted to run.
But I didn’t.
The little voice inside me told me to sit through the class. To do something for ME. It didn’t matter that I was, by far, the oldest person in the class. It didn’t matter that my camera was a little bit old, and my experience was pretty much nothing more than shooting with the camera on auto and getting lucky sometimes. It didn’t matter than my camera was feeling as old as I was.
“What are you shooting with over there?” He said to me, as he sat down beside me.
“Your camera. What is it?”
“Um. I don’t know. It’s a Canon. That’s really all I know. It’s about 100 years old.”
“Let me see it.”
I immediately let out a sigh of relief and probably smiled a little bit. I had envisioned sitting through the whole class feeling uncomfortable and out of place. That was a big fear of mine. Unfamiliar social situations. I am that girl; the one who goes places with people she knows; the one who only goes to the bathroom with a partner. People who don’t know me that well make me nervous. I always feel like they are judging me, watching me, and I always say the wrong thing.
“I know. It’s not a great camera.”
“No! It’s great. I mean, I might actually be jealous of it. But your lens. Wait. Just a minute.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a lens and put it on my camera. “Try this puppy out. You are going to love it.”
I took a picture with it.
“Ahem. My name is Richard Donnelly. And welcome to this photography class. Let’s get started, shall we?”
My new friend smiled at me. And I smiled back. I didn’t even know his name.