Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just Call Me Miss van Pelt

Does anyone remember the Peanuts movie when Charlie Brown went to compete in a spelling bee? There is a scene when Linus gives Charlie Brown his blanket for good luck, but Charlie Brown loses it (or something), and being without his blanket is so distressing that Linus keeps passing out. Charlie Brown sends Snoopy to get some water for Linus, who is prostrate on the floor, unconscious, with birdies flying in circles over his head, and Snoopy obeys, brings back a glass of water, but then proceeds to drink it himself. Linus is in and out of it, waking up briefly only to pass out again, so Charlie Brown sends Snoopy for more water, and the scene repeats with Snoopy drinking the water.

I am Linus.

It’s as if there isn’t enough blood in my body or there is insufficient air in my lungs, but I feel like the birdies are flying in circles over my head and I’m about to pass out.

A week ago I broke my camera. I’m not talking about a button snapping off or a mirror cracking. I scratched my low-pass filter, which is, evidently, made of some magical substance that stays put, doesn’t run, but cannot be touched or it will scratch and smear. Having survived Honors Chemistry in high school with a B- (working my hardest and still struggling to get buy), I realized it was not a field I could handle, not because I’m chemistry-impaired, but because my brain isn’t wired to understand it easily, and therefore it wrecked my confidence. Since then, I have avoided anything related to chemistry. Having this magical part of my camera damaged in a way I’m not quite sure I comprehend, I wish with all my might that I understood more.

All week I’ve gone back and forth about what to do to fix it, and where to take it. I’m looking at a $500 repair, and it ranges from a few days to two months for it to be repaired. I won’t bore you with the negotiation details or the 100-mile drive to finally bring it to a Nikon authorized repair facility, but I handed over my camera today to a man who I barely understood, who laughed at me when his technician saw what I’d done, and who said he would call me on Monday to let me know what they could do for me.

Standing there, I kept wanting to take pieces of it with me.

“Should I take the strap off?” I asked.

“No, I wrote down the strap already on the inventory,” he explained.

“Should I keep the battery? Do you need it? Should I take that with me?”

“No, that’s on the inventory too. We don’t need it, but I already wrote it down.”


He set it in a generic plastic bin, labeled with a number that matched my ticket. The bin was blue and cold, and I felt like it was wrong to put my camera in a plastic bin. I wanted to grab it and to run out, promising to take better care of it and to bring it to a place that would treasure it as I do. But I resisted. The drive was long and I’d already decided on this location because of the speed at which they promised to have my camera fixed. If I rescued it and brought it to a different repair store, it would prolong the separation, and that was the worst thought of all.

My eyes welled up as I turned away. I abandoned my camera, my most precious possession, and the emptiness inside me was growing.

I walked to my car, camera bag unnaturally light, feeling shaky and sick. Once in the car, it took three swallows before I felt like the lump in my throat was starting to shrink. I couldn’t visit my camera now, couldn’t look at it and convince myself that it still looked okay and it would be fine. I couldn’t ease my conscience. Now it was alone and cold, in a plastic bin, awaiting a fix so that it could go back to doing what it does best. And we were apart for the first time in a year. Was it missing me like I am missing it?

Today I realized something about myself. I have no idea who I am without my camera. I have no clue what I do with my time when I’m not taking pictures or planning an outing to take picturesjavascript:void(0). Everywhere I look I see things that interest me and I frame them in my mind, planning out how I’d shoot that scene and what I’d like to take away from the experience. Everything is a photo to me.

So, I’m quite lost. I feel as if I could pass out repeatedly, unable to face the world without my camera, unsure how to be myself without my Nikon limb.

Linus is me.

1 comment:

Lumos80 said...

Just sent my Nikon for repair too.Already feel as if missing out children growing up.Which is silly because,
a, it's been 2 days
b,am with the children,watching them...
Hope it gets back soon.Totally know what you mean.
(Even though am amateur photographer)