olive and oak

elize strydom's photo journal

Month: October, 2014

little wonders

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The low hum of exaltation is continuing to weave through my days.

Spotting a pup with a kind face. A sweet postcard sent from the other side of the world. The way the afternoon light falls across a house on my street. A really good coffee. Professional support and encouragement. Trying – and enjoying – a nip of whiskey. A visit from a dear old friend. An introduction to new friends. The chance to be there for someone. A Taylor Swift/Aphex Twin mashup on Soundcloud (wait- what?)

I thrive on little wonders – unexpected moments of delight and connection.

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ennui

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it is well

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I have never been happier, I’m quite sure of it. Things are not perfect, no, that’s not what I mean. But I am surer of myself. Calmer and lighter. I am being presented with spontaneous opportunities to learn and understand. I am incandescent with hopes and plans. Nourished from afar. Brimming. I am pleased to be here.

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only words

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I am the dreamer, always the dreamer. After that evening spent taking photos on Ange’s rooftop and after my stroll home in the delicious warmth, I collapsed on my bed and gazed out the window and experienced such a lovely sense of wellbeing. A few ideas began to piece themselves together and words started to form an orderly queue in my mind. A poem was taking shape, for the first time in years. I texted Ange and Amelia: ‘How do I write a poem without sounding like a 15 year old girl?’ ‘Maybe write more how you would speak to me? I don’t know, I never mastered it’ came Ange’s reply. ‘Reading poetry can always help you figure things out. Don’t overdo adjectives, never talk about hearts or butterflies. Avoid rhyming…look for truth!’ said Amelia. I wanted to write about  something I’d observed, nothing groundbreaking, just interesting to me: Saying goodbye to someone who was about to take a trip and how strange it was to say goodbye as he was almost 12,000 kilometres away from me to begin with. When he arrived at his destination there would be almost 16,000 kilometres between us. But what’s another 4,000 kilometres? Apart is apart. Once we were in the same city and didn’t even know it, or each other. The poem is on a scrap of paper by my bed, unfinished.

on a clear night

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A week ago, at the end of that really hot day, I spent a few hours taking photos of Ange and Amelia up on Ange’s rooftop in the city. I bossed them about and took snap after snap. They indulged me, like always, and dutifully obliged as I told them to “stand here/walk over there/look up/act natural/STOP!” Anyone who knows me well knows that the only time I assert myself and act with certainty is when I’m behind the camera, shooting what I want to shoot. I get in the zone, as they say, and all distractions fade away. I’m wrapped in ribbons of euphoria, a goofy grin on my face, as I make pictures that may or may not end up the way I imagined they would. It doesn’t matter, though. It’s the process that elates me. The possibilities, the potential for a ‘perfect’ capture. Instead of depleting my creativity stores, being creative seems only to replenish them.

I walked home in a haze, relishing the warmth of the evening, lungs full of intoxicating spring scents. I noticed a girl riding her bike fast down the middle of the road. She was gazing up towards the sky, long hair flowing behind her, as if she expected the wheels to lift off the ground at any moment. It really did seem like she was flying. That goofy grin spread across my face again and I felt like I was walking on a dream. It struck me that my life is full, so full, of intelligent, bright, creative, gorgeous women. These women are my best friends and I treasure them. When I was younger I was one of those guy-friend girls. ‘I just don’t get other girls,’ I remember thinking. ‘All of the drama! All of the petty fights! No thanks, I’m not that kind of girl! Guys are just so much easier to be friends with.’ I didn’t realise it at the time, but as this article on xoJane explains, “…I can see (now) that my subconscious strategy for coping in a sexist society was to align myself with men, to avail myself of their considerable powers of protection, to get what I could from them using the only weapons readily available to me — my body, my charm, my femininity and my compliance. By gaining the approval of those in charge, I hoped to gain access to the perks and opportunities of masculinity.” I’m currently reading, no, devouring, Lena Dunham’s ‘Not That Kind of Girl‘ and feeling grateful for who she is and the difference she’s making. I was late to feminism; I still have a lot to learn.

Two days ago I joined a girl gang for a roadtrip to Canberra to attend a flower festival, Floriade. Being with these women – chatting to them in the car, strolling around the festival, taking photos, sharing, connecting – filled me. When we got back  the city was steamy. Lee, Maddy and I drove to the coast, sun setting behind us. We dipped our toes into an ocean pool then jumped into the cool darkness. As we swam through the saltwater I looked at their wet, shining faces, lit by a combination of moonlight and distant citylight, and I was happy. Our eyes adjusted and we realised we were surrounded by blue bottles. We shrieked and scurried and how none of us were stung, I’ll never know.  We giggled as we wrapped towels around our shivering bodies, amazed by our lucky escape. I aimed my phone in the direction of the sea and took a grainy photo, to remember.

I implore you to read Amelia’s latest blog post here. And if you want to get a visual sense of the things I’ve written about – the photos taken on film won’t be back for a week or so – you can check out my VSCO grid.