I’m running down a dirt trail, full steam ahead, sandwiched between two of my friends, and I realize how strange we must look to our fellow trailblazers. The two of them are running freely, and several feet ahead of me, and I’m there with my jean shorts on and my hiking backpack securely clipped around me (which contains all our cell phones, sunscreen, and water). People must think we are running away from a mountain lion with the way we weave in and out of couples and groups of children- but in all honesty, I can’t tell you which one of us started to run in the first place.
I'm feeling slightly hung over after going out with friends from work the night before, but I’ve already sweat most of the whiskey out of my body, and am now smiling from ear to ear as we continue to sprint instead of hike the path. My mind ceases any unwanted thoughts from entering, and I am completely in that moment. I am running through a canyon with about twenty pounds strapped to my back, for no reason at all – simply for the hell of it- because it’s what needed to happen right now.
The first time I came to this trail was back in November. I came here because a coworker had recommended it to me after we bonded over our love of hiking. At that moment, I needed to get away from a slew of thoughts that were haunting me in my apartment. They're called the "mean reds" actually (based after Holly Golightly of course) but instead of wandering over to Tiffany’s, I tend towards nature.
I came here by myself that time, back in November, and had not looked at a map or read anything about the trail before setting foot on it (which is odd for me since I usually am one who needs to have a plan). That time though, I wanted to walk amongst strangers and not have any idea where I was going. As I walked the trail alone, I started writing an internal monologue about the importance of being with one's self, why we should bask in our solitude, and how crucial it is to take the time that is so needed for yourself. That time can change your life and help you reevaluate each and everything around you. (I highly recommend it.)
So I kept walking. I continued to watch the people around me and observe the hills surrounding all of us. Little did I know what this trail had in store for me. As I turned the corner around this cliff, I heard a large crowd bellowing, and a sound too familiar to describe. It was there that I witnessed the most gorgeous site before my eyes.
I stopped. I took it all in: the sounds of water splashing, children laughing, and the feel of my hands grasping onto the rocks as I made my way forward. It was there that I had this insight:
Many of the people that stood there were the same people that I had seen along my trek. We had crossed paths and nodded towards each other without saying a single word. We had been a part of an experience all too similar, and ended at the same destination. While we took various paths and traveled with various groups or by ourselves, we still ended up at this waterfall. We all shared in the same beauty.
That moment has stayed with me, and is why I keep going back to that canyon. That’s why I’m running through it right now with two of my friends. I feel free. I feel unstoppable. I feel… happy.
We stop running and start walking at a steady pace as the crowds grow larger around us, and due to my friend almost getting kicked in the head by a guy feeling the need to show off his hurdling capabilities. We're walking now. The steady pace of our shoes against the dirt is all that can be heard. We laugh and smile and continue our conversation from before.
We're back at my car and I toss my sweaty backpack in the back seat. The key goes in the ignition, and the windows roll down. None of us are saying a single word in this moment. We're just breathing in the air and letting it fill our lungs. It's so peaceful. My hand rests upon the steering wheel, and my foot hits the pedal. Onward we go.
I'm sitting at my desk with a glass of scotch and a slice of triple berry pie (heated up and served in a bowl) that I made earlier this week. There's a quote on my calendar staring me straight in the face. It reads: "Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. - William Faulkner." I stare at the month of March that hangs gracefully under my chalkboard, which holds photos of my two grandmothers (and my favorite quote from Yoda), and I am filled with utter happiness.
Earlier today I submitted a piece of my writing to a group based here in Los Angeles. I have been writing a play a day (even last night in a bar while waiting for my friend), and have had many productive (outside normal working hours) business meetings over the past few weeks. There's so much I want to share publicly at the moment, but must keep under wraps until everything gets finalized. Needless to say, I am super pumped for so many projects that are happening right now. I'm stoked to have so many new people in my life to collaborate with on these things, all of which are helping me broaden my understanding of various facets of the film and theater industry. It's all a learning process, and I'm going to remain a giddy little schoolgirl along the way.
I start to hum a song in my head that only myself and one other person (my soul mate) know. This is something I can share right now: we are writing a song together and it is going to be so fucking amazing. I can't stop singing it while driving to work, doing the dishes, or running around my neighborhood. Hopefully we will be releasing it soon, but until then, I just have to say how truly blessed I am with everything right now. Not only is this song happening between two people who live on opposite sides of the continent, but also I'm also amazed that I have been developing a film with another person who lives in New York. With two cross-country collaborations happening at once, it kind of makes you feel that anything is possible.
Lately, I've been using the hashtag "do what you love" for all my photos and tweets, and please believe that it's completely true. Do what you love. Do what makes you insanely happy. Follow your passions and never look back. Do the things you are willing to lose sleep over, because that's when you know it's truly worth it.
Thank you to all of those who have contributed to this whirlwind of a feeling. I love working with all of you so much, and am so truly blessed to have you in my life. (That might be the pie talking, which means I should definitely have another slice.)
We're driving towards the Griffith Observatory with Frank Sinatra serenading us along the way. Tiffany is sitting behind me, Josh is driving, and I'm dressed like Audrey Hepburn in the passenger's seat. There's a large black hat on my head and my Grandma's costume jewelry is draped around me. It's a beautiful day in Los Angeles, and the three of us are talking about our hopes and dreams. None of it seems real. It doesn't seem possible to be this happy.
Exactly a week ago, the three of us went on an adventure through Griffith Park as part of a photo shoot concept that Josh and I had collaborated on together. He is an up and coming photographer, experimenting with the concept of portraiture, and I (usually behind the camera) decided to step outside my comfort zone and attempt to pose. When we first came up with the idea, Josh asked me what type of photography would I like to explore. Usually if I'm working with photographers, I like to have them capture me in everyday moments. I like to focus on my quirkiness and the fact that I'm a creative person. I have not (at least since college) participated in a themed photographic adventure.
So when he asked me what I'm drawn to, I had to go with vintage 1940's style. I grew up on films such as Casablanca, It's A Wonderful Life, and The Philadelphia Story. Women like Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, and Rita Hayworth were all role models to me. I admired their gumption, style, and wit. Especially Katherine, mostly because she reminded me of my Grandma - a woman who never backed down from anything and spoke her mind freely. Also, both of them had their own unique style and wore it with the greatest of confidence that you couldn't help but be slightly intimidated by them when they walked into the room. Have I never mentioned that my Grandma bought matching silver shoes and a silver purse to go with her silver mustang at the prime age of 75? Yeah, she was a bad ass.
In the end, it was a culmination of 1940's to 1960's style. We visited the Observatory, the Merry-Go-Round, and the Train Museum throughout Griffith Park. While sitting side saddle on one of the ponies around on the Merry-Go-Round, I couldn't help but feel like Mary Poppins with my large hat, diamond earrings, and cotton candy wrapped around my black silk gloves. It reminded me how much I love to play pretend. To step out of reality and into a different character - one of the reasons I was always drawn to acting, and continue to write about people in their various lives. This day was escapism at it's finest.
There were so many ideas we had originally discussed that we never got around to, but we aim at working collectively on several more photographic projects together. I couldn't be happier with how these select images turned out though. With the amazing help of my best friend, I don't know if I would look as confident as I do in these. God knows I can't take myself seriously as a "model" because the whole idea is just ridiculous to me. I am so much more comfortable hanging out in the background (as a photographer and writer, it just makes sense to me), but I am pushing myself to try new things and experience various creative aspects that I don't usually partake in. Needless to say though, there were many inappropriate jokes and fart noises that occurred during the day to lighten the mood. Oh, and there were several rules we broke along the way at each location. I would share those details, but I don't want to leave a paper trail.
Unfortunately, Josh does not have a website to which I can direct you to, but he will have one soon - I promise. Until then, you can admire his work here and on Instagram (if you have one) @joshyadon.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a train to catch. (Horribly cliche, but necessary with the photo)
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