One night a few months back, I stood in the middle of my studio apartment assessing the mess sprawled on the floor all around me, and I realized something very special was unfolding.
The messiness seemed indicative of the transitional life stage I was–and still am–experiencing. Perfect in its imperfection, and contributing to the broader narrative of my life.
Had a keen observer stepped foot in my apartment that night, they surely could’ve deduced a whole helluva lot about me in that moment.
My soul was plastered over every inch of that space; a soul going through a fair bit of turmoil, sure, but a soul finding its way nonetheless.
I felt the sudden urge to document this “in-between-ness.” To remember this particular version of my apartment in all its unfinished glory. It would never look this way again. And I was beginning to realize just how quickly things had been changing, even in the few short months I had lived there.
I was growing a bit tired of only photographing things deemed conventionally beautiful anyhow. I wanted to capture something that told a deeper story. My story.
I’m learning that I’ve always loved photography for this reason. For the stories it preserves when our memories fail. For the feelings we are privileged enough to return to simply by looking at a photo.
In this type of storytelling, the artistry and the technicality matter but hardly. The kinds of photos that I’ve always cherished for allowing me to know a childhood my own mind refused to acknowledge, were hardly the kind you’d frame and hang on your wall.
They were messy. Imperfect. And often captured moments of “in-between-ness” rather than the monumental moments that we’d probably remember anyway.
This is the kind of photography that has always mattered to me the most.
So I grabbed my camera and shot my 600 square feet from a variety of angles, preserving as many of the messy details as I could.
The pile of Target bags and the shoes lined up by the door.
The giant bottle of Sriracha on the coffee table, where I had most likely just eaten my dinner for one while watching The Office on Netflix.
My bed and workspace, overflowing with books and journals and all the trappings of an artist-slash-business-owner who’s still very much figuring this whole entrepreneurship thing out.
My quaint little kitchen, where I spend some of my favorite solitary moments, which I had just finished tidying.
The mundane. The simple. The forgettable.
Except I didn’t want to forget it. Not this time.
Because I knew that this year would always hold a very special place in my heart
“Remember that time I moved to Hawaii by myself?” I’ll ask my friends someday.
“That shit was WILD.”
The mess also felt indicative of the sheer abundance in my life. In the last few years as I’ve slowed my roll and stopped traveling so much, I’ve been made aware of just how quickly we accumulate shit in our lives. And while in the past this would have overwhelmed me, this time I simply felt grateful.
Grateful for the comfortable existence I’ve been fortunate enough to lead, where the things I need always seem readily available to me.
Grateful for the space to hold it all.
Grateful for this space that I get to call my very own.
Life isn’t always beautiful and Pinterest-worthy. And I wouldn’t want to remember it that way.
Life is a series of tumbles and failures and the occasional triumph, the latter made sweeter by the former.
As I continue to evolve as a human and a soul, my space will continue to evolve with me. As I write this, it already looks much, much different than the version you see in these photos.
I’ve learned how to keep it (slightly) tidier. I’ve added a few things to the walls, I’ve killed a few house plants, I’ve finally replaced my old yoga mat that was falling apart bit by bit with each use.
From the outside, you wouldn’t recognize the building, either. My landlords are just now finishing up a little renovation project which included a fresh new paint color–blue like the Hawaiian sky.
I’ve become even more intimately familiar with the little quirks I know I’ll miss when I eventually move out of here someday. The cockroaches in the kitchen, the blinds that are slowly falling apart, the refrigerator that startles me with its ridiculously loud humming whenever it’s in a cool-down cycle.
I now look around this place and feel a very real sense of nostalgia–for a place I haven’t even yet left.
Because it’s mine, in all its messy majesty.