The end, the end, the end.
Embracing a model of the Empire State Building. No biggie.
[photo by Roxanne Lewitt]
On September 4th 1950 David Douglas Duncan joined the men of Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment as they fought to push the North Koreans back over the Naktong river. Baker company had come under attack and fought a desperate defence of the ridge. Here, 22 year old Corporal Hayworth cries tears of frustration upon realising his company has taken heavy casualties and that there are no more grenades and there is no more ammunition.
Weeks after taking this picture, while still in Korea, Duncan handed Hayworth a copy of the September 18, 1950, issue of LIFE in which the above photo appeared. “Hayworth looked at this huge picture of himself, in the biggest photo magazine in the world,” Duncan recalls. “He didn’t say anything. He just smiled. He looked like Errol Flynn, about 6-foot-3, a tall, handsome Marine. And no one’s saying anything, looking at this picture of him, crying, and an old sergeant behind him says, ‘We all cry sometimes.’ The next day, September 25th — the three-month anniversary of the start of the war — a sniper shot him between the eyes.”
My friend got married the day before I took these photos. To a man she met when she was 11 and he was 16, a nice man whom she didn’t realise she loved for the longest time.
The reception was in Poissy on a small island in the Seine and the day after the wedding, the day I took these photos, I left Poissy early and alone on a train to the city.
I had been to Paris eight times before but never alone. Once I went there on my honeymoon and when I saw the Eiffel Tower I cried because I was happy to be there. Another time I went for Christmas with a couple who would soon break up. On five of these occasions I travelled with two men I loved. Only one of them loved me back.
On the day after the wedding I left my luggage at Gare du Nord. I stumbled across a food market in the 10th and bought a buttery soft croissant and then walked to the canal. I saw a white dog. I saw a homeless man sleeping in a garden bed. I had a coffee. I thought about the best and worst things that are happening to me at the moment. I thought about watermelon. I thought about my friend Tarik. I thought about the man who didn’t love me back.
I thought about how we should attribute as much meaning and weight as we want to things. About how everything is something if you look at it right.
About 10 years ago I was lying on a bed in an operating theatre and a surgeon leant over me and told me I was the master of my own appendix. Then he bowed to me, the kind of bow a student offers their sensei, and put me to sleep and cut out a cyst the size of a small peach that had been making a whole lotta noise on my right ovary.
A few weeks ago I went on a cruise to Greece and Turkey. I didn’t know I was going until about five days before I went and then I went and it was great, mostly, but sometimes weird. I took these photos in colour at a concert in some ancient ruins while an orchestra played. A guide told us there are only five harp players in Turkey which doesn’t seem like many harp players.
When I got home and I got my photos back I decided these looked better in black and white so I changed them to black and white. I guess that’s cheating but it doesn’t matter really. Because what the surgeon meant was that I could make whatever decision I wanted, that I was in control. And so I kept my appendix that day and I made these photos black and white and I left my husband and I lived in city after city and I don’t like pistachios and I’m ok with all of that.
I finally got to go to In-N-Out Burger.
Just dinosaurs being transported on the Hudson to the World’s Fair. No biggie.
Every so often I’ll take a photo and I’ll think, yes, this is the best photo I’ve ever taken. And of course I won’t know for sure until I get the film back and I’ll just hope and hope and hope for anywhere up to seven days that the light hit the film just right and the world will get to see what I saw: a moment in time when patterns emerge and lines and colours and light and shade are aligned and that I am the luckiest person because I got to see it.
This is one of those photos, taken on a Tuesday afternoon in San Diego while walking alone down suburban streets. After I took this photo I swam 1km in my hotel pool and then floated on my back and watched the clouds swirl in the wind like just stirred coffee and then tinge golden as the sun set. After I swam I drank whiskey in an empty bar and chatted to the bar tender whose name was Kevin and I felt glamorous for a while, maybe 30 minutes, probably less.
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