As a photographer, poet, writer and general observer of people and the world I have been endlessly fascinated by the concept of beauty, both universally and personally.
I am sitting at my usual seat in the Tobacco Factory, watching the clientèle and staff go about their business and their pleasure. There is an almost heady quality to the conflicting and yet fundamentally complimentary relaxation of the customers and the quiet efficient busyness of the staff.
A girl sits in front of me, slightly to my left, conversing expressively with her friend, a holistic feed of information; her hands, her smile, her laughter, the tilt and sway of her head. Unaware of me, she is magnificent in that expressiveness, the essence of her personality flowing through the eloquence of her physicality. She has long dark hair, her skin is slightly tanned, her face balanced, confident in its bearing, characterful and enticing in its mobility. Is she beautiful? No more so than her friend, and yet she has a vibrancy and magnetism that draws the eye, a certainty of spirit that attracts an inquisitiveness to match the implied potential of her mystery.
There was a girl, of long ago, whom I loved and still love. Was she beautiful? Yes, in her way. But for all the dramas of her body and soul, my abiding memory of her is one of repose, quietly reading in the darkness, a light shining softly across her face. I cannot remember where or when this took place, and in its time, it has taken on the quality of a dream, or an imagining. But she was so very beautiful at that moment, and though she knows it not, she carries the memory of that scene with her.
Slightly to my right sits an older woman, with her son and friend. She is beautiful. Her short blond hair matches the care of her appearance, not carelessly chic but hardly stuffy. I have seen her before, in tears, the shame and doubts and fears of her life laid bare, and the sadness of her smile the equal of the gladness of the grin she wears today. The contrast of memory and emotion, of time and presence simply reinforce my perception of her. She smiles at me occasionally, perhaps she remembers me being nearby, a silent witness to her honesty.
The music from the film Amelie plays overhead, a favourite of mine, frivolous, melancholic, imbued with a gentle but fierce optimism. It imparts a rare glory into my day.
Like most things, my ponderings remain inconclusive, irrational, constructed whimsically and without care. But then this is me in so many ways.