Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tears for Fears

I...cried at work today. No, I didn’t break down behind the wheel, didn’t bawl my eyes out over a tricky edit, didn’t sob uncontrollably at the thought of another unjust deadline. But my eyes did emit liquid while squinting through the lens at the intimacies of others. It happened quick, and early. Before the sun even rose, I prowled the floor of the local airport, grumbling under my breath at the very idea of a pre-dawn shoot as I scanned the cavernous room for something significant to document. It wasn’t difficult. Square-jawed men in crisp desert cammos, weepy spouses clutching crumpled tissues and fidgety three year olds, teenage boys wiping their eyes when they thought no one was looking - the straggling formation of stoic soldiers and their red-eyed families made for a target-rich environment. So I went to work, setting my camera atop its tripod at the far end of the hall and using every bit of my glass to eavesdrop. Hey, it’s what I do.

Nor was I the only one doing it. A burly news shooter from another station sized up the room for himself before joining me at my isolated perch. There, beside the oversized pot of artificial plants, we chatted about new cameras and old light kits, occasionally breaking off in mid-sentence to zoom in on shots that deserved it. They were everywhere. A large mother in a wrinkled track suit sat and sobbed as her son tightened the straps on his duffel bag. A small brown woman in too-tight jeans babbled into a cell phone, her words blurting out between hitching, painful breaths. A red headed couple held each other tightly, their carrot topped infant swaddled between them. The child stared at the flashing lights of the departure grid, unable to comprehend a place called Iraq.

“Man, this’ll break your heart,” said the big bear of a man beside me. “It’s heavy shit,” I answered, never taking my eyes off my viewfinder. On screen, a Hispanic man in starched camouflage drew his family close. Glancing at my red tally light, I made sure I was indeed recording as the young soldier wrapped his uniformed arms around his wife and two small daughters. For a few long moments, they all huddled together, heads down, silent. Then, with an incredibly tender touch, the soldier kissed each of his girls on the forehead before releasing them from his final grip. That’s when he stepped back and hoisted a green bag the size of a dormitory fridge onto his back. Backing up slowly, he flashed his ladies a carefree grin and winked at them before turning and walking down the tunnel toward the waiting aircraft. By the time he schlepped out of sight, there wasn’t a dry eye on the concourse.

Mine included.

9 comments:

Chewie said...

You're a writer, my friend. Each better than the last.

Weaver said...

That brings back memories from a few years back when were covering the deployments more often.

We had gotten to know this one family and then had to to the guy's deployment.

He has kids the same ages as mine, so it really choked me up as I witnessed, and captured the teary goodbyes. (Click here to watch it.)

He made it home safely and we welcomed him back with another story on him and the boys.

Brad Weaver, BC Instructor said...

You are indeed a soulful storyteller with the ability to recount a memoment and all the subtle layers that go with it.

Jami said...

That's the hardest part about working in Eastern Carolina right now. It seems every month we're covering another deployment. And everytime it's the same thing. I have to try to fight back tears while reading a story about these unselfish men and women who leave their families to fulfill their duty whether they agree with the mission or not. I just pray everyday they all come home.

photogguy said...

Those shoots always get to me, too. Those, and the return home gaggles, too.

Again, nicely written.

tapeguy said...

So well written, it evokes some ocular moisture as it is read.

Looks like someone's got his groove back!

gingerivers said...

Really sad.

Chiefphotdog said...

It's a lot to take in, your one gifted man.

Anonymous said...

WOW...Brought back memories of
covering the funeral of the 1st kid from NW Iowa who died in that God awful place...19 yrs olde. Having worn a green suit at one time with RA on my serial number.,. Learned we shared a few things...Love of motorcycles & racin' along with havin' a cold one with friends. Hardest part was voicing it after I got back...
DAS ADLER