Sundays are for lazying around in pyjamas. For reading. For drinking coffee. For soaking in the sun. For reflection. And for catching up. For peaceful quiet and preparation for another week. Sundays are for you. And for me. For family. For the ones you surround yourself in. This is Sunday.
My thesis in my final year of Uni was entitled This is Sunday. For it I photographed a bunch of individuals who had influenced me. People who had helped shape me into the human that I had become. I photographed them all on my Bronica film camera in black & white film and I wrote them a letter to accompany the resulting final portrait. It allowed me to do some soul-searching for myself and it gave me an excuse to reach out to these people that I loved. To spend time with them. This camera is such a wonderful excuse for things like this. An excuse to gain access into the lives of others.
I photographed the obvious like my parents and close friends. My now-husband was included in the project. At that point, we had been broken up for nearly five years. He was my high school boyfriend and we had remained mildly in touch. But I had recognised how much our time together in our teenage years had changed me so it was important that he be in this project. The final image of him had his eyes closed in a blink which is something that I normally cringe at. But in this case, the image was perfect. The letters that I wrote to most of the others were profound and pronounced in language. For his, I simply told him that I liked to think that he had made me mean while I had made him nice. To which I really meant, he had given me a backbone, something strong to stand up to. That it was okay to be me and to be me as loudly as I wanted and for that I wanted to thank him. He had set me out in the world as a teenager with a new sense of confidence.
In 1998 in a time when we were struggling with our high school dramas and that relationship, I had written in my diary that I thought perhaps we were meant to meet later in life after we have both lived and experienced more in this world. I discovered this passage a few months before our wedding in 2015 and it took my breath away. How prophetic. How strange this life can be. When we are young, we feel as though the world is lighter than it is. As though we can carry it on our backs like an ant carries something 10 times its size. How brave we are with our open hearts and profound insights. If only we learned to trust ourselves a little more with all of that. Imagine how much more tolerable our twenties would have been? Yes, Jess. Your life will work out. One day you will live with this man. Twenty years later you will live a life that you previously only dared to dream. A life that you have made a reality. After you both lived your own lives and experienced the world in different ways. And you will be happy. Happier than you knew would be possible.
This is Sunday was received okay by those University professors back in 2003. They gave me that BFA but were not blown away by the project. It’s fine, I recall them saying, but, so what? These people influenced you. They shaped you into the person that stands here now. True. But how can we relate? What makes us, the viewers, the outsiders, interested? How can you take this project and expand on that for the greater audience? What can you create with this idea for all of us?
That challenge has been something that I have pondered ever since. I do not have an answer yet. But I know that one day I will.
Today is my first real Sunday free from work and life chaos and travel that I can recall in a long while. And it is bliss. I have been looking forward to this day for weeks. In the madness of what life has recently been, this day was a beacon shining in the distance. Today I read yesterday’s newspaper on the deck. And when that was done, I read the stack of newspaper-bits that I have had piled on the table for months. Stories not that I didn’t have the time to read but that I hadn’t made the time to read. Until today. The sun traveled across me and the table until I was draped in shade. A cicada came and landed on the fence. I heard a call of a bird that was unfamiliar. Through new human sounds and dog barking, I was able to decipher that we have a new neighbour behind us. I drank a Bodum of coffee. My husband joined me for breakfast. Then I had a bath at two in the afternoon with Ylang Ylang oil, a scent that I am doing my best to love. I do not know that I have ever had a bath at two in the afternoon ever in my life. Usually they are destined for the dark of the night in a bathroom full of candles. In the afternoon light, it felt different but equally good.
So, This is Sunday. This is my Sunday. A day of pyjamas and reading and lots of reflection. A day of sanity and quiet and pondering. A day of rest. A day for me.