Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dad Is in the Darkroom

I had my first photography class last week. It was interesting but I didn't learn anything new.

But I found memories.

Memories of my father as a young man, when I was a child. My Dad then was very much into photography. My brothers and I helped him build a room in the basement to use as a darkroom.

My Dad has always been a man of great enthusiasm and energy. Those wonderful qualities are some of the best things I have gotten from him. And he has always been very generous and enthusiastic about sharing his interests and his knowledge.

I remembered last week, more distinctly than in decades, wonderful times spent with Dad in the darkroom. He did all the stuff, handled the film, chemicals and paper, because he had the knowledge, but I, about 10 at the time, was thrilled to be let into the inner sanctum of the darkroom of my father's soul. Here was special, holy knowledge, and my magical father was showing it to me.

I saw again the plastic cases that you wind the film into in darkness. I saw the safety lights that cast their glow on most darkroom work. I saw again the chemical trays for developer, fixer and stop bath, and the plastic tongs you use to move the
photographic paper through them.

In my mind I could smell the old darkroom across the decades.

I saw enlargers, a bit more modern but pretty much the same as the one Dad had in our basement.

As I sat in the class, hearing about all the things we would do in the coming weeks, part of me was daunted.

A deeper part, however, was thrilled. I look forward to returning to Dad's realm, now an adult, and doing the things he did (or trying), and maybe drawing another level of understanding from the past.

At the very least, no matter how dark it may be, i will never be alone there.


Gloria said...

Talk about time travel! I was right there in the basement with you when the darkroom was being constructed, and right there with you now when YOU are the Dad!

essie said...

I really enjoy all your writing, Howie. Thanks for including me on your "mailing list".

Ben said...

A great essay, Howie.