Let me take you on a journey
Twelve years ago, on this very evening, I embarked upon a journey down a road that I am still following today. A risk taken on a leap of faith that exploded in glory and wonder, which was to become the very foundation on which I built up my passion for photography. A defining moment in my life, for sure, and one that has led me to who I am today. This journey has shown me what it truly means to love, be loved, and to share in life’s wonders. It has also shown me loss and sorrow, separation and rejoining. This road has taken me to the highest highs, and the lowest lows, yet I am thankful for the experiences it has led me on none the less.
That Faithful Day, Twelve Years Ago
So, what happened on this night those twelve long years ago? Let me start by saying that it was after a weekend of fun with friends; loud music, dancing, and staying up till the wee hours of the morning celebrating the holidays with the OTC crew in Oakland. That, of course, is a story for another time. After the weekend came winding down and it was time for friends to go back to their perspective “daily lives” I found myself not quite ready to go back home and instead headed over to Hayward to hang out a bit with someone who would later become the greatest single source of inspiration in my life. It was there in Hayward in the quiet night between Sunday and Monday that Jenn and I first kissed.
That, that is the night in which I started this journey.
Let The Adventures Begin
We hit the ground running from that moment on and within the first few weeks we were off to spend New Years in L.A. Like an avid marathon runner on his “runner’s high” we pushed on through the new year with snowboarding trips to Squaw Valley, an EARLY spring road trip that brought us from the bay area up to Oregon and back, Summer camping in the gold country of California, and the top of a volcano nearly 14,000ft in elevation!
Time was flying by in a blaze of adventure and companionship. It seemed like there was nothing we couldn’t accomplish together with new adventures awaiting just over every horizon. “Firsts” became something of a goal as we explored the state and our own back yard, and we certainly had many, many “firsts”.
A New Home
It wasn’t long before this journey led us to the decision to get our own place together, another “first” for both of us. And, after some searching around we settled into a lovely apartment in San Mateo. I still remember the previous tenant needed to be out of there in SUCH a hurry that he left us a sleeper couch, microwave, and a coffee maker…SCORE! Housewarmings with friends ensued even though it was quite a bit of time before we actually settled in and got all our furniture in order. Hell, for the first month or so we didn’t even have a bed and were simply sleeping on a mattress in the living room! The move, however, got off on a rough start as I had lost my job shortly before and struggled for quite a bit of time before I finally found one again. Looking back, I now realize just how draining and unfair that was to Jenn.
We pushed on, forging a new life for ourselves, and in the fall of 2004 we purchased our first “professional” camera, a Nikon D70. Jenn and I had always been avid shutterbugs, both of us always with camera in hand at parties or events, and she had taken a photography course in college. It was the natural progression of things.
The Photography Years
From the time we got our fancy new “pro” camera, all bets were off! We were dedicated to capturing the world around us through the “eyes” of the lens. Shortly after buying the camera we purchased a tripod up in Tahoe that was used to take some of our very first published images (also found on this very website). One such occasion was a stop over at the Marin Headlands for some images of the Golden Gate Bridge at night. To this very day I still have a large 20×30 print of that first image framed and hanging on my wall.
From Portland, Oregon down to Rosarito, Mexico; our adventures in photography shined bright. We would often take a day trip out to the San Mateo coast for beach shots, with a few of those shoots being collaborations with fellow photographers (mainly Andrew Kaiser). We were immersed in a world of creative art SO close to us that Jenn even did a project for one of her anthropology classes based solely on nude photography, including her own.
It was during this time that I began to realize just how much Jenn meant to me. I had previously loved her, obviously, but in the course of our photography together she became MORE than just a girlfriend and companion in life. She became my muse, the person that I not only wanted to be with on a personal level, but the person that I wanted to incorporate into my art and images as well.
Downfall & Demise
They say that “All good things must come to an end”, and that saying cannot be more true between Jenn and I. Our downfall cane in the summer of 2008 whilst preparing for our “first” adventure out to Burning Man. Wither it stemmed from prior hardships or from another outside source, I honestly cannot say. But, for whatever reason, it was time for Jenn and I to go our separate ways. This came at a particularly difficult time for me as we had booked our “first” adventure to Hawaii already, and it was well past the deadline to receive a refund.
I had already left the apartment by the time we actually went to Hawaii together, and while the experience was magical in and of itself, there was just “something” missing. You see, before our falling out in August, I had purchased a very special, very meaningful item to give to Jenn. This item was none other than an engagement ring, complete with sapphire accent stones and a 1.5ct princess cut diamond in the center. I just HAD to fulfill my own dream of asking her to marry me, even though I already knew the answer was no.
Needless to say, Jenn and I eventually separated completely (much to my objection), and went our separate ways. Over the course of the following years, I pushed on. By being the person that I had forged out for myself, I continued on down the road and found myself in a unique opportunity to visit Australia and finally meet some of the photographers and models that had become “friends” over the years. I took hold of the reigns and booked my flight from SF to Brisbane! A month in Australia was certainly not enough time, but was a great initial opportunity to meet up with friends and further develop my photography by working with other models.
Over time I accepted our separation and even enjoyed a few relationships both home and abroad as I traveled about the country and the world. But in my heart I always knew that Jenn was my “one that got away” and I never stopped loving her. Eventually, I was faced with a situation while in New Zealand. My girlfriend at the time, and person I was living with, became aware of my prior involvement with Jenn and our photographic endeavors. This woman knew full well that I was VERY much involved in photography, and even nude photography in the past, but when it came to Jenn, she demanded that I renounce any an all association. Now, I am a man of values, and believe that following one’s heart can NEVER be wrong. So I had to say goodbye to my relationship in New Zealand because I just could not accept my partner’s terms. The whole experience gave way to thoughts and feelings that I had long since buried deep down within me, and after many months of reflection and soul searching…I realized something that was as clear as day.
Not long after my return from New Zealand, which came about not only due to issues there, but also some family issues that I actually needed to be home for, I was contacted by none other than Jenn. She was gearing up for her own New Zealand adventure, which while not surprising, was rather ironic. You see, New Zealand was a place that we had always talked about visiting on one of our adventures. And, for me at least, was the destination that I was secretly saving up for to take her on a honeymoon before our separation. I, of course, jumped at the bit to share on to her my own experiences and adventures from NZ, and in December of 2012 I bid her farewell once again as she boarded a flight to the land that I had just recently returned from, never telling her how I really felt about her.
Two years past, and while we kept in touch through her adventures and some plights, I supported her and her decisions/reasons for being away from “home” as I knew that the experience would be for her benefit in the long run, even though in my heart I wanted her to return home. Now, just last month she finally DID return home after some discussion of matters that I will not go into here. I would finally see the face of the one I loved again!
While I do not know what the future has in store for Jenn and I, I do know that my love for her is eternal. Wither it be as friends, or more, I can only say that I will fulfill the promise I made twelve years ago to stand beside her and support her in the decisions she makes for herself. Currently I am helping her get her business off the ground through website design and general feedback/ideas, and I could not be happier! Of course, not all is as it once was. There is a tension between us that will eventually break…for better or worse I cannot tell…
So, that is the “short” story into my life. Think of it as you will, but I am grateful for each and every step along the way. As I said before, and will say again, this journey has led me to be who I am today, and I would not change who I am or the values that I hold dear to me for anything in this world.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy holidays!