Who Are We?
We are a group of individuals who are beginning a new journey, with our hobbies and interests being the only constant. Setting up my tripod at the foot of my bed, I press the self-timer and jump under the blanket all within ten seconds, completely dreading taking this shot. Photography is my passion, but taking pictures of myself is not. I take one hundred pictures of myself as the deflated balloons hang over my bed, weeks after celebrating my commitment to the University of Pittsburgh. As I edit my photos, I see my childhood bedroom, with my old stuffed animals tossed around the floor, exploring a new purpose in holding onto the things I love as I’ve grown up. Realizing this common feeling, I photographed the passions that formed my friends into the people they are today. As my friends and I transition to the next chapter of our lives, we leave each other, our homes, and families behind, only to take our life-long passions with us.
Gathered around the table, my grandparents, brother, and I devour challah bread and matzo ball soup. It is one in the afternoon at Lester’s diner, loud and crowded with families sitting around enjoying Sunday lunch. We laugh and talk about school as they sip their coffee. My grandparents order a large chocolate chip cookie, and my brother and I split it perfectly even down the middle. Just one memory of my childhood, repeated every month for eight years. Lester’s is a place in my community that everyone knows; everyone creates their own memories there.
I have not been to the diner in five years, but I went with my family in my senior year of high school. Physically unchanged, with the same scent of coffee in the air, a feeling of discomfort filled my body as I stood in silence. With a lone customer at the counter, the diner lost its sense of community, with only past memories and laughs to remind us of what it once was. The places of my childhood changed forever, leaving moments unfinished. As I slid into the booth, my awareness of Covid-19 strengthened: football games without screaming fans, movie theaters with an unfamiliar silence, and parks deserted without the giggling children jumping off the swings. With each day passing, these spaces become more empty. Years of memories fill the silence of the places where strangers would once gather together as a community.