My Friend and I in A Car
When I first saw this picture, it surprised me, because it was so unlike any photo I would take with my eyes open. Many of the photos taken before this one seemed perfectly commonplace: there was my cat, my skylight, the pavement, a tree, all things I would photograph with my eyes open. How, then, could this particular photo seem so full of emotion and deliberation, when I wasn't even sure what I was thinking when I took it? What had I done, besides go blind, to make this photo so different? Also important in this picture is my best friend and guide for this task, who wishes to be known as "Isaac". He is the face in the bend of the silver curve. Isaac made sure I made it across the street in one piece, helped me find Braille on a streetpole's fire alarm, and yelled "OBSTACLE!" whenever he had to. I still managed to walk straight into two trees and a stop sign, and was heartily laughed at on several occasions. It's all right, though; more obstacles meant better pictures. (Do you see a bright spot of light with a red-haired mummy behind it? That's me, taking the picture, blindfolded by ACE Bandage.)
Isaac and I climbed to the top of Vulcan Peak in San Francisco, where I took a picture of "the view" only to be told that I had just photographed a solid piece of rock (sometimes Isaac had good reason to laugh). On our descent, Isaac spyed this tourist couple gawking, and explained that I was conducting an experiment. "Yeah, don't worry," I said, glad to be engaging with others as the task required. "I'm not actually blind." I waved, hopefully in the right direction, and snapped the shot. "Oh!" cried the wife, and I realized that I would never need to look this woman in the eye, ever. I knew everything about her, the terror and delight she felt at having her picture taken by a complete stranger, how her appearance worried her, what she would remember from this encounter and what she'd try to block out, all from her making that one sound, "Oh". I will never forget that. As Isaac and I treaded down, I heard the man say "Wow!", as clearly as if he was holding my other hand, helping me down. I wasn't sure what he found amazing, the view, or what he had just witnessed. I was very proud of the two of us, Isaac and I.
When blind, there were only three things I could feel that assured me I was still attached to Earth, that Isaac's voice was not speaking to me through a black fog in some parallel world. One was the ground beneath my feet, which I photographed a great deal. One was the wind, which I wish I could have captured in a photograph, so strongly did I feel it all around me. The last was the sunlight, making my eyelids blaze fierce orange, becoming colder when I was hidden under a tree or a rock, giving me all it could in its changes so that I could feign sight and stumble in the right direction. I took sunlight's picture, as a thank you for helping me find my way.
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