Monday, August 13, 2012

Life Menu #66 Family Photo Shoot

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to write this post for you.  Since last May I've been itching to do this.  Well, since longer when I scheduled the activity.  Oooooh, have I ever been excited to write this! Long, I don't want to start there.

Hmmmm, where to begin.

Tapping finger on forehead.

Hang on, I'm going to make a mug of coffee.  I'll be right back.  Here's my autumnal Ohio playlist to keep y'all company...

And I'm back.

That was a nice little interlude, wasn't it?

Last May we sat for a family photo shoot.  This is the first "official" photo shoot we have had done since we added Jack to our family five years ago.  I know.  I KNOW.


Anyhow.  This was doubly special for us, because we had it taken at North Baltimore Main Building.  The very place our family was "born."  You see, ten summers ago I applied for a position to teach English there.  Then I subsequently met, fell in love with, got engaged to, and married my perfect husband and we became a family of three (him+daughter+me).  We continued to work there (and get learnin there, in my stepdaughter's case) for two more years.  Then new job opportunities came along and we moved on/graduated from high school.  Once in a while I would think about how much fun it would be to return to NB for a family photo shoot after our son was born.  Recently the North Baltimore school district was able to construct a new main building, which translated into the original structure getting slated for the wrecking ball.  Now, this is understandable.  It is old.  It is way past its prime.  It has outlived its useful life span.  The community is ready for state-of-the art facilities.

Yet, this breaks my heart into one million pieces.  You see, the first time I met the man would would become my perfect husband was inside the hallways of that building as he took me on a tour.  I remember saying "this is what a school should look like!" As we walked the glossy terrazzo hallways, peered through the glass windows on wooden door frames, rested my fingertips on actual chalk trays under real slate boards.  This building held the souls of all the students and teachers who had come before me.  And the three short years we were all there together it held ours.  I am in tears as I write this.  Saddened to know that my first classroom, tiny though it was, will soon be gone.  The office where I got my engagement ring on a snowy December morning will become part of a field.  The small gym where I stood in the corner watching many girl's basketball games will go with it.  Is it silly to mourn the loss of a building?  I don't know.  When it brings together people whom you love, and whom you call family, I don't think so.  And when it was such a giant piece of your life, I know it is not wrong.

When I heard the school would be torn down, I began a serious search for a photographer that could capture the love in my family, the fun we have together, and the soul of that building.  I stumbled across  Sarabeth Photography in my search, and after looking at every single family photo shoot on her blog I knew I had hit on the perfect photographer.  I coordinated a date with her, the superintendent at North Baltimore, and my stepdaughter (who would need to fly home).  At first I wanted to keep this quiet and not tell my perfect husband.  I wanted it to be a surprise gift.  But I was so excited for him to know we would always have a piece of that lovely school in our home, I couldn't.

When our Sunday in May rolled around, it was cool, sunny and breezy.  We arrived on time and the place looked just as we remembered it.  We got to take photos in the main entry where the doors are that I once fantasized about installing in our house.  We crashed into the gym to snap a few fun shots over the tiger that my stepdaughter helped to put whiskers on.  We leaned into each other by the auditorium doorsteps.  We stood for group photos on the front steps.  And the entire time memories seeped from the walls.  It was the final time we would set foot on those floors.  In many ways it was fitting that the hallways were darkened-just like the first time I walked those corridors with my perfect husband.  And now we have a beautiful keepsake to have always.

Here are some of the shots from our sitting.  I cannot tell you how difficult it was for me to narrow it down to just a few favorites.  Sara did such a wonderful job, they all looked fantastic.

#66, we so owned you.

This is the doorway I walked through a single girl and found my family...
As a wee 12 year-old lass, she put the whiskers on that tiger. Rawr.

She painted those whiskers. He just hammed up for the photog. Typical man, shows up when the work is done.

The next few capture us best in smaller groupings...and melt my heart more than words can say.

Seriously, are we finished? I have sticks to find and trees that need climbed.  And dirt.  Lots of dirt to dig.

So there you have it.  Life Menu #66 complete.  And while the building may come down, the hallways cease to be, the classroom walls no longer echo the voices of students and teachers, we will forever have this beautiful May Sunday afternoon captured in the place where our little family was born.

On to the next!