Letter to my mom


Hi Mom, Mummy, Maman, Mamá…
Depending on the mood and the preferred language of the moment.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, wondering how and where you are, what your present life is like.  You would be a hundred and five now!

A few weeks ago I was driving up highway 101 from San Luis Obispo when I saw the ruins of an old mission, Mission San Miguel Arcángel.
Pull over exclaimed with excitement ‘la fotógrafa’ which is how I’ve named my ever vigilant inner photographer.
I imagine you also had a persistent inner voice directing you to stop and change course to capture a moment in time.

I took some photographs at the mission and once home transferred them to my laptop. That easy. Yep, you would be astonished to see what’s happening these days in the world of photography. Negatives still exist as do darkrooms. Digital photography is a whole other ball game. I can see my photographs instantly and edit them in a lightroom 🙂  But then again, maybe you know this already …  existing in whatever world you find yourself.

This image of the bells reminds me of you.
I see you driving all over Mexico, from Michoacan down to Oaxaca, Barra de Navidad, San Cristobal de la Casas, pyramids like Chichen Itza and Tepotzlán at sunset, and countless other places. Back and forth you traveled with your camera. Images of people, landscapes, churches and pyramids… you captured them all with a select few resurfacing as beautiful, highly contrasted and defined matte, black and white prints. I see many of them in my mind. This was back in the 60’s and 70’s, times when one could still find a sense of solitude in these places, a moment to connect and feel the past blending into the present, before tourism and cartels took over.
You drove to many areas, much of the time counting syllables on your fingers as you mumbled poems you were composing in French. Two times six syllables to a line, un alexandrin.

The original photo was in color – colour for you and Granny, your English mother 🙂 . I thought of you as soon as I saw it and switched it to black and white. Yes… the perks of digital!
This image with the maguey in front of the wall reminds me so much of Mexico.
I was transported there. It was a visceral memory, one that lives in my cells. I felt a familiar homesickness. No surprise really, California was once a part of Mexico and in many areas the landscape is very similar.

I imagine you standing there,
Roloflex in your hands, clicking away.
In moments like these I miss you.

Mom, this one is for you.

Love,
Arati

Mission San Miguel-0525-4

Mission San Miguel Arcángel, El Camino Real, San Luis Obispo County, California

Categories: Buildings, Family, Landscapes, Photography, The Journey, WritingsTags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 comments

  1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing about your grandmother. Is there perhaps a sweetness in this memory of her? I enjoy hearing that this place is familiar to you, the sense of companionship, shared experience I get from knowing this.

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