These streets will never look the same.

Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.  – David Alan Harvey

If You Can Make it Here / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick

If You Can Make it Here / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick (July 2011)

A few months ago, after shooting almost 50,000 photos on my T2i, I decided it was time to upgrade. Reticent at first, I eventually caved when a friend of mine (who taught me most of what I know about photography), sent me a text saying my “night shots could really use a full frame sensor.”

That was the final straw. I will forever be a nighttime photographer, and my Rebel T2i was like the little red caboose that couldn’t quite get up the hill.

I put my cherished and reliable friend up for sale on Facebook and with seconds of clicking “post,” it was gone.

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Climb… Is all we know.

It’s been nearly 12 years since I left California for New York. 13 years since the days when my friends and I would drive to the top of Skyline Drive in Cowan Heights to escape whatever it was that we wanted to escape that day: school, work, family, boyfriends, whatever. We used to sneak into an abandoned mansion at the top of the hill, share stories, dreams… bottles of Boone’s.

Now, more than a dozen years later, there’s another mansion being erected on the property and another generation of dreamers parking along the cliffside shoulder.

Cowan Heights View, by Meagan Kirkpatrick

View from Cowan Heights overlooking Irvine / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick

I’ve always had a thing for heights. I’ve been taking flying trapeze classes for years and one of my favorite things to do is to stare out of airplane windows at the cities below. There’s just something so soothing and intoxicating about looking down at the world – at the days passed – and reflecting in a place that’s both familiar and anonymous.

Reflecting on the Past, Photos by Meagan KirkpatrickI can’t help but wonder though, why is it that we humans feel the need to look to the past for answers about the future? It’s like an invitation to carry all that weight with you wherever you go.

When I’m feeling deep and reflective, Bon Iver is at the top of my playlist. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to his self-titled album this week. Wash is one of my favorite tracks and the lyrics are the perfect companion for a skyline view.

Wash. Bon Iver

You are already naked.

I’m sitting in the waiting room at UCI Cancer Center. It’s 10:49am; she should be out in an hour. There are pink ribbon gel gems on the windows, and a basket of “les fleurs” on the counter. It feels warmer than I’d imagined it would be.

I flew in from New York yesterday. Arriving just before her cut off for food intake, so we devoured a variety of Gummy Pandas I had picked up at JFK. Blueberry Acai was my favorite, hers was lemon ginger.

I cried when they told me they would give her the cadillac margarita of anesthesia.
“You only have one mom,” the doctor said as she carted mine away.

If you subscribe to the belief that challenges are what lead to growth, I should be six feet tall after the last two years. Instead I feel so fragile in this moment. Maybe I’m starting to realize that all of this stuff – all of this ambition – is just a coping mechanism. A way to artificially defend against the things I can’t control. Or maybe she’s just the greatest human being who’s ever lived.

Let’s forget all the things that we say.

Girl Shatters into Dust, by Shutterstock photographer Aleshyn Andrei
My mother tells me 90% of our thoughts are repetitive. Guess that explains why I keep rehashing everything about the last year and a half. All the things that were said. Not said.

Apparently thirty isn’t as wise as I hoped it would be. But I guess the truth always finds a way out, and when it does, there aren’t so many questions.

Let’s forget all the things that we say. (Julia Stone)

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