I love taking pictures.

In the fields at sunset, on a rainy street, on my favorite rooftop in Jerusalem, at champagne brunch with my best friend, on my Aunt’s couch in Silverlake, at the airport, by the sea…

It’s one of my things. Like drinking single malt, and writing stories, and watching the sunrise.

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But:

“Ooooof why do you take so many pictures?” my kids ask me when I drag their asses out to the field next to our house at sunset, or tell them to stop for a second and turn toward me — just a minute, baby, it’ll only take a second…. or when I bend down to photograph a big old snail inching along a green park bench, or look up at a bird in flight that’s gone in a flash.

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And many of you have asked me, too.

It’s simple.

I left almost everything behind in LA when I moved to Israel — all the books I loved: the ones by Alan Dundes, and my Robert Alter’s translation of Geneisis, and my Jeffrey Deaver murder mysteries, and my Amy Tan and Anne Tyler collections, and all my books on Israeli-Palestinian history… I left everything: jeans and tank tops and dresses and shoes. I left Settlers of Catan, the chess set my mom got in the Philippines, and  Balderdash…  a box of love letters a once-soldier boy sent me…. I left the library desk I started my first parenting blog on which was the exact same desk my mother used to write her books… the rocking chair I used to nurse my daughter… the bed my mother died in… the old lamp that we had the piano that illuminated the keys when I would play Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata and the Goldberg Variations…. the tape player my mom and I would listen to old radio shows from the 1940’s…. the sea chest that once belonged to my Great Great Great Grandaddy when he sailed around the world on a whaling ship….

And then there were the harder losses -my family, my friends who were like family…. the places, too — the places where I went so often I am sure my soul left its shadow, a cosmic footprint, because I wore those places thin.

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I left almost everything behind in LA because I thought I’d be back. A year at the most, maaaaaaybeeeeeee just one more.

Funny what we do with life instead.

And part of how I deal with the impermanence of life and all its near misses and all its miracles is to take a shit-ton of pictures and save most and share some.

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Because life. Life is fucking vast. And taking these pictures is my way of remembering that I was there. That we were there.

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And I’ll tell you something – I wish to God I had taken more pictures with my mother.

That funny scar on my arm

And with everyone – all the loves I may get to see again. Or not.

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I wish I had more than this little scrapbook I culled together with my best friend the night before I left — and I wish I had a picture of that moment, too.

These things matter to me – that’s why I take so many pictures.

It’s why I edit the pictures, too – to bring out color and contrast, a deepening of shadow or a flash of light. I want my pictures to reflect the reality I imagined – not necessarily what the lens can capture.

Maybe it doesn’t matter to you — and maybe it won’t end up mattering to my kids.

And, hey, that’s cool.

This is my thing. (Like scotch and sunrise  and writing stories.)

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So… bear with me while I stop for a second, turn around ,take out my phone, and save the moment as best I can…. because when it’s good — and so often it is very, very good — I want to remember.

 

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Special thanks to Anne Gordon for helping me get these pictures in.