Long and winding road


Northport, Alabama

It seems that the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Leave it to God to change my plans at the last minute.

Somewhere between blubbering like a fool over Alec’s well-written words and drinking my morning coffee, I realized something amazing. It was 6 a.m. and I was wide awake (one of the perks of insomnia — you can’t miss the sunrise if you just don’t sleep.) A fine, misty fog hung over downtown Northport, and I felt a vague stirring in the back of my mind. Absent-mindedly, my fingers brushed the strap of my camera.

“Alec Long is SO going to kill me,” I thought to myself as I shrugged into my barn jacket and tossed my gear into the trunk.

Truth be told, this is probably exactly what he had in mind when I said I wanted to give up photography. Humor me. Cater to my dark whims. Indulge my wishes. Everyone knows that as soon as you give something up you’ll crave it like holy hell. Mmm hmm. He’s wicked smart, for a Yankee.

I shot fast and hard, kneeling on a dirty concrete floor with tears running down my face. So many people believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. So many people reached out when I could barely lift my head. And through it all, there was my closest friend — 1,000 miles away in a town I will never see. Not just another photographer. Not just another writer. My best friend. My brother.

I knew he would be waiting for me when I got home. A quick good morning gracing my computer screen, a few lines of idle chit-chat and then the inevitable: “Sleep well?”

I knew he would wonder how I was feeling. Want to know what I thought of his words.

“He’s going to kill me,” I repeated aloud to no one in particular. But of course, he didn’t. He greeted the news of my morning shoot with typical aplomb.

A: How you feeling?
C: I’m not quite sure. I didn’t sleep.
A: At all?
C: No. So I was awake at 5:30 a.m. and there was this killer fog.
A: 🙂
C: Yeah, you know where this is going, don’t you?
A: (big grin) Why you little…. 🙂
C: 🙂
A: You KILL me! Man, what I wouldn’t give to throw you in a headlock right now.
C: Ha!
A: You make me happy, Carmen Sisson.
C: Everyone was just so weirded. The mood was so down. I couldn’t take it. Think I’ll just shoot. Jeez.
A: Do what makes you happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you.
C: I had fun this morning. I can’t imagine life without it.
A: Is that all I have to do? F-cking eulogize you? Jeez.
C: Yeah. Wicked smart reverse psychology. I’m on to you, Alec Long.
A: Don’t tell the natives. They think I’m innocent. 🙂

And that was that. Relaxed, easy, comfortable in that way that old friends have between them.

It’s just after midnight and the house is dark and silent except for the glow of my PowerBook and the tap-tap-tap of my keys. A candle at my hand provides comfort; a blanket over my lap offers warmth. There are worse places to be.

The shadows will lengthen. They always do. The bad dreams will come. They never fail. And in the morning, for good or for bad, I will wake up to a handful of warm comments, a steaming cup of hazelnut coffee, and a smattering of words on my screen.

“Sleep well?”

And with any luck, I will type, “Yeah. Yeah, I did. Thank you.”

A thousand times over, with more words than I can say, thank you.

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