6 years ago I found myself totally clueless on what to do with my life..
I had just graduated from Loyola here in Chicago and like most recent grads, couldn’t find a job. So what did I do? Apply to every retail shop, grocery store and restaurant I could think of. After a bunch of interviews I decided Whole Foods was where I wanted to work for the time being – the people working there seemed really nice and honestly the thought of bagging groceries and chatting to customers about couscous vs rice or the benefits of organic vs natural sounded so much better to me than dealing with grumpy people doing their holiday shopping (I’ve done that before too in high school, it was g-d awful).
So I was officially hired at Whole Foods, completed my training and spent the next month bagging groceries and learning the register codes for every different type of fruit and vegetable known to man. I eventually found myself one night feeling bored out of my mind and at the time I was the odd woman out in my three-lady living situation. So determined to do anything but go back to my apartment alone that night I asked everyone at work if they wanted to get together and hang out. My supervisor said he was having people over at his place and to come by that night after work.
Work party? Sweet!
So I went over to his house, which was on the corner of Comfort Lane and Easy Street.
I walked in the door and the first person to say hi was Vasili. He had this big smile on his face as he greeted me and asked if I wanted a beer.
When he smiled really big his eyes scrunched up like Richard Gere’s….
He asked me if I wanted a 60 minute IPA or 90 minute, no wait, I should have the 60. He handed me the 60 and proceeded to explain to me the difference between the two, and that there was also a 120 I think.. A few beers in I started to feel a little warm in the belly and thought to myself, Wow, how did I not notice before how much of a babe this guy was?!
We talked all night and then hung out the next day. And the next day after that… and every day since pretty much.
6 months later we moved into our first apartment together in a complex called Bourbon Square with Lucky and Bentley. We went to Greece right after we moved in and picked up Basil a few months after that in Oklahoma (I remember looking at pictures of Basil with Vasili on the internet while we were in Greece and showing his family the kitten we just picked out!).
We lived in Bourbon Square for a year before moving into Vasili’s parents’ basement on Memory Lane while we looked for a new place in the city.
Then we found a loft overlooking the city in Pilsen where we lived for 2 1/2 years, we raised baby ducklings there for a month before bringing them down to our friends’ farm in Carbondale, Illinois and enjoyed many nights from the 8th floor photographing storms late at night.. I graduated with my Masters in Public Health and started my photography business to help finance school and keep me going when I still couldn’t find a job after that. Vasili moved on from Whole Foods to working for the Chicago Cubs.
Once we outgrew our room-less loft in Pilsen, we moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in Logan Square on California right by the Tastee Freeze and Bang Bang Pie Shop.
While here in Logan Square – my dad got diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct, got surgery, did chemo and beat it; Bentley passed away unexpectedly one night; we’ve struggled and done well and then struggled some more; Vasili’s Opa passed away at 98 years old; we learned to use our crock pot finally after 2 years of it sitting in a box and now we’re trying to learn how to balance more time with each other and our loved ones over work because life is truly just so short…
And that’s just the surface stuff.
Last year I had one of my favorite photographers do a photo session of Vasili and I while she was here in Chicago (Diana Palmer of YanPhotography). We’re not married and we don’t have kids, but she was coming into town and I really wanted to have photos taken of us since I was so busy taking pictures of other people that I barely had any of us.
And with all that we’ve been through in just 6 years together, and even in just the year since we had our session, I’ve been reminded of all the reasons why photography is so important to invest in – yes it’s something you can pass down to your children and their children; but it’s also something to help your heart heal when you’ve lost someone important to you or a chapter of your life is done and over with; and it’s something that you can look back on to help remind you of all the wonderful reasons your life and relationships are worth fighting for. Because let’s face it, there are a multitude of times when frankly life sucks or you’re having a hard time communicating with your partner and you have to push through and work hard to get to the next good patch..
above: in loving memory of my sweet Bentley who passed away in June.. my heart aches SO much every day that you’re gone..