November 12th, 2009

DC Update

I had this book about the Beatles when I was a kid and there was a photo in it of Paul standing around outside the Magical Mystery Tour bus and the caption said "Paul, waiting for the magic to begin." I don't know why that sticks with me, but it's one of those things embedded in my head. Waiting for the magic to begin. The truth, a lot of times, I've discovered, while making parenthetical asides so I can use more commas, is that while you thought you were waiting for the magic to begin, the magic was already happening.

So ... Tuesday I went to Washington DC to photograph three Supreme Court Justices, it was basically 12 hours of prep and setup for 30 seconds of actual shutter button pushing. I did get to listen to Justices Breyer, O'Connor and Kennedy talk for an hour and a half or so beforehand about Thurgood Marshall, cases they'd agreed on, cases they hadn't, all of which was pretty nice. I've photographed all of them before on several occasions, so the initial awkwardness that's sometimes there was gone but Justice O'Connor's husband, ill with Alzheimer's for twenty years, had taken a turn for the worse and she left quickly to get on a plane and go to the hospital to see him. I'm left powerfully impressed with her ability to deal with his illness for so long and with such strength -- with her ability to function in the face of such adversity, to talk with colleagues and have your photo taken and simply move from one place to another. She watched her husband of half a century slowly forget who she was and then watched him fall in love with another woman in the same assisted living center, and then watched him fade completely. John O'Connor died the following afternoon at the age of 79.

Flags were at half staff to honor the victims of Ft. Hood, but I'm now reminded that people go through powerful and tragic losses every day, and some of them deal with it with incredible grace and determination. I wish I had a flag for them.

I spent most of Tuesday taking photos with my iPhone waiting for the magic to begin, but really, it was already there.

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