summer 2007 was the last time, until recently, that i felt like a free, independent, whole, valid, intelligent, healthy, strong, contributing woman. i felt like there was nothing that i couldn’t or wouldn’t do, or try. i felt that all things were possible, that the world was my oyster, and i was only limited by my imagination (not even finances limited me, because i was more than capable of making a job or finding a way to make money).
for as good as i felt though, i knew that there was something “looming,” on the horizon. i felt it coming for years. i experienced unexplained physical sensations and symptoms that neurologists couldn’t figure out. they did ct and mri scans…lumbar punctures…bone marrow biopsies, but it was a mystery. rather, i was a mystery. i seemed to be “fine,” as long as, i wasn’t given a diagnosis. i wasn’t physically right, but i was a force of nature.
you can imagine with my physical symptoms and the “looming” questions and fear of the unknown, how much my summer darkroom class, with my favorite instructor meant to me. it meant the world to me, to be able to learn, grow, experiment, challenge myself, and shine like the proud leo, that i was. i fed off of my own self-challenge to be my very best and criticism/praise from my peers, and instructor. other than my dogs, that was all that mattered to me.
when my instructor gave us this assignment, four photos that portray fear, i knew exactly what i was going to do. i knew what my fear would be and it was the fear of deterioration (of mind and body). that was indeed, what i feared the most. i was afraid of becoming an invalid and a burden. i was afraid of having my beautiful mind slip away. i was afraid of losing the use of my body and becoming trapped, and alone in my mind. i was afraid that i might have als.
for my series of four photographs, i shot one of the slides, from one of my brain scans, that showed a few lesions. i shot some of my pill bottles, with their reflection on top of my stove top. i shot a self-portrait with my c-pap on, as i suddenly became unable to breathe at night without one. i also shot my .22 handgun, a single bullet (with my name on it), a rotting banana, and a final note to “gtw” (my dad). from a very young age, my dad always told me that he had “a bullet with my name on it.”
he told me that once i outlived my usefulness or became sick/injured. he was going to take me out to the citrus grove and “take care of me.” and yeah, for as fucked up as that sounds now…it was always a great comfort to me, because it meant that i would never have to be a burden to anyone, no one would ever pity me, and i would never have to suffer. the note was from me to him, reminding him of his promise. the banana was symbolic of deterioration.