Day 298: Sweet Jane

In Lewisburg, I see parents helping their kids move into the dorms or into apartments off campus. I try not to dwell on it.

I can imagine, if I choose to think deeply about it, helping Miles choose stuff for his room or helping him buy things for school. I could go to orientation with him, drop him off and spend time exploring the town where he goes to school. I could tell him about restaurants and record shops I find.

I can imagine packing up the car and driving him to school and helping him move in. I could meet his roommate and check out his room.

I can imagine, if I try, the reluctance to leave but also feeling his excitement of his new adventure. I can imagine my sad drive home, thinking of him getting to know the people around him on his floor. I can imagine him meeting some skaters. I can imagine the first August hot night alone at college, him in his bed and me far away in mine, wondering what he’s thinking about and how he’s feeling.

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Day 264: Candy Says

It was really important for me to keep everything of Miles’s in perfect order. I wanted his room to be the way it was when he was alive. I am still that way. Things have been organized and rearranged out of necessity. Miles was in the process of moving from one room to another and as a result his room was in some disorganization. A few days after he died, I stood in his room and made a video of the way it was. I took a pictures of the books on his shelves. I put his belongings in shoe boxes, one for the stuff in his car, one for the stuff in his backpack, one for the items on his desk. His hamper is still full of the clothes he’d discarded in his last week of summer, his first two days of school.

I am less obsessed with keeping everything in absolutely perfect order, but I insist on it for some things. I am going through some of his slides and as I do so, I maintain the precision of their arrangement. I keep them in order as he had them. He was messy about some things but he was very well organized when it came to his photography. Everything was where he wanted it.

Day 233: What Goes On

I drove Miles to WIlliamsport a lot to use the dark room at the Pajama Factory. Ralph, Miles’s mentor, was always very generous with allowing Miles to use the dark room whenever he needed it. Miles would shoot rolls and rolls of black and white film and develop it in the dark room. He experimented a lot and Ralph was always encouraging him to try new things. He would help him to figure out what went right and what went wrong. The freedom to fail was really important. As a result of Ralph’s instruction– and also, I think, Ralph knowing when to just let Miles go– he learned so much and became a better photographer.

Ralph shared with me that he learned a lot from Miles, and one of them was to not be afraid to try new things and experiment. “This will work,” was one thing Miles said a lot when he was setting up some complex shoot. He made cameras out of suitcases and whole rooms. He experimented with all kinds of films and lights. It often worked. It sometimes didn’t. Ralph helped him fail, succeed, and learn. This summer, Ralph is experimenting with his own tintype photographs. I have seen some results and it is really exciting.

One evening when Miles and I were driving home, he and I saw a bear. We were about halfway home, driving on route 15 in a narrow stretch with steep embankments on either side. It was a dark shape that flashed in our headlights, scurrying quickly across the road. It was visible for just a second, but it was unmistakably a black bear. There are lots of them around here. We both saw it and said, “Whoa! Did you see that?” at the same time. It woke us up on our sleepy drive home.

I would have thought it was an illusion if Miles┬áhadn’t seen it too. I swear we saw a bear on route 15 about two years ago, both of us.