on a clear night

by elizestrydom

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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.

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