She squeezed his hand a little tighter. He glanced over, flashed her a smile and squeezed back, pushing the cool metal of her brand new engagement ring against her pinky finger. The sensation gave her a bit of a thrill and she smiled at the thought. “I’m engaged!” she said to herself, silently, and a flush of excitement came over her. The chatter of their families surrounded them as they stood at the crosswalk. Today had been such a whirlwind. She had thought it would be like any other Saturday – a baby shower, a friend’s birthday, a quiet dinner with Chris. Instead she had opened the door to their apartment and found him kneeling on one knee, a ring in his hand. She had only been slightly recovered from the shock of that moment when he whisked her away to dinner at Ristorante Bartolotta. When they arrived at their table, his family (all the way from Boston) and her own were waiting for them – champagne in hand. It had been such a wonderful day. And now they were going to cap it off with a drink across the street. Shoot! She suddenly remembered she was supposed to be going out for a friend’s birthday. She’d have to apologize on Monday for missing it. Chris swung open the door to the bar. Rekha was snapped out of her thoughts by cheers and the call of “Surprise!”. Standing in the room were all of their friends and family. Chris leaned over and whispered in her ear, “Welcome to our engagement party” .
I had always heard about Mira, but we had never met. Not at her Dad’s wedding, not in any of their visits back stateside with their little guy Ethan. Until this session, when Mira made a summer visit with the whole family and finally I got to capture all the love and admiration I’d seen in Dietmar when he described her. And I was in awe of this stitched together family – such love, such connectedness, such friendship. Since we finally had everyone together, we went back to where it all started – Riverbend in Kohler.
She swirled the few drops of red wine in her glass a bit. First dates were so awkward, even when you had spent weeks chatting online and the phone. This one had gone particularly well, but now they had reached what should be the end. She wanted to tie it up in a nice sweet way, that made it clear she was interested in more, but not too eager. He poured what remained of the bottle into their glasses, maybe enough for a swallow each. A glint in his eye sparkling a bit as he smiled over his hand. He raised his glass, and she joined him. “To…..” he paused, searching. “Friendship!” he spit out, a bit too quickly. She felt her face fall a bit as their glasses clinked. Friendship?!? Maybe this date hadn’t gone as well as she thought. He coughed a bit, smiled and tried to pick up the conversation.
That toast was a few years ago, and as it turns out, Mike was just lacking the right words for his toast because he and Jessica have so much more than friendship now. Family, love, fun…the list goes on and on. That first toast to friendship wasn’t as off point as it may seem. It’s a foundational quality of any good relationship, and certainly what will see them thru the years ahead raising three rambunctious boys, racking up the wedding anniversaries and finding new adventures.
There are some families where their kids all emerge looking remarkably the same. It’s so startling that you are left thinking things like “This is just a simple equation. Amanda plus Andy looks like this. Every time.”. That is what is happening here. Bram looks just like his sister did as a newborn, though obviously a bit more masculine. This sameness is captivating and leaves you in awe of the magic of genetics. Truly. But what isn’t the same is the family Bram was born into. His parents are wiser, calmer, more confident this time. As they should be. Big sister Fiona is a remarkable little girl whose curiosity, kindness and empathy are admirable traits any parent would be proud of. I can only imagine all the ways Bram will twist and turn his nature and nurture into a new surprising equation.
Above is likely one of my favorite pictures, ever. It’s so ordinary. And that is why I love it. It’s the kind of picture that only comes from clients completely trusting me and forgetting about my presence. It comes from the fact that I’ve known these people, told their story – for eight years. It’s what you would see if they didn’t know you were there. Andy falling in love with his son for the thousandth time that day, and Amanda realizing she is married to a remarkable man, who she somehow loves more now than she did before simply because he is holding their son. I know, I’ve felt it. I imagined this is what it looks like. I wonder if they see all of that in this ordinary picture too?