A MODERN FAMILY PORTRAIT ~ featured in Typical Magazine
“Once we have this baby, everything will be okay. Nothing but our love is holding us together. The financial struggle brings us closer together.” I heard these words as I drove Harry home from work three weeks before he and his wife Kay bore their first son Jaxx Oliver. I first met Harry when I started working at an organic cafe in Portland. I admit, I was intimidated by him. It was not his plethora of tattoos or his loud swearing, but his genuine talent at pretty much everything he set his mind to that intimidated me. My hesitancy vanished rapidly as I bore witness to his willingness to help everyone, his patience with customers and coworkers, and his constant use of “bro” and “dude” to the point of contagion. His occasional mess-ups were reassuring in that they proved to me that he was, in fact, human.
The first time I visited Harry and Kay at their home, Kay had just given birth to baby Jaxx Oliver and Harry was recovering from appendix surgery. I was privileged to be one of the first friends to see Jaxx-Oliver. Kay, still cozied up in bed after her home-birth, welcomed me into their home with a kindness matching Harry’s. Astrix, their cat wound his way around my legs, mimicking the graciousness of his owners. All were in a state of bliss.
Since then, they have both experienced the exhaustion that comes with a newborn child along with the added hardship that financial deficit can bring on people. Financial deficit seems to be the plague of us twenty-somethings. As I photographed them, weary but cheerful, we talked. We talked about our dreams, stories of people whom we would like to mold our lives after. As we talked, Kay caressed Harry’s hands. “There is something about hands. They say something about a person.” I couldn't help but think how fitting it was that she paints and is fluent in American Sign Language.
As I left, Kay’s words, “We need a change” echoed in my mind. Isn’t that what the twenties is about? Change, discovery, and the struggles that come with our age. I wonder if the need for change really goes away. That desire, and sometimes simple necessity, is what moves us forward to grow and mature, to discover purposes for our lives. It is what we strive for in whatever small or big ways. There is a deep sense of joy in forming goals, accomplishing them, and making new ones. Maybe we just become more focused in the ways that we change as we grow older.
As I looked at Harry, Kay, and baby Jaxx, I see hope in change.
We humans need a change.