I always had a feeling that I didn’t quite fit in, in Callaway County, MO, Population 44,000, but it started to become extra obvious around my preteen years. While other girls were decorating their rooms with butterflies and stars, I filled canvases with skyscrapers and pictures of the Eiffel and the Arc de Triomph. I asked my parents for supplies to learn knitting and screen printing and video editing and painting, and once they put the camera in my hand, it never left.
My mom had given it to me to take pictures at a concert, but while I was waiting in line, I saw a lady wearing a gorgeous cream-colored sun hat with colorful beads on the rim, just barely covering her eyes, and I took a picture of her face. When I showed my mom, she scolded me, saying, “Gaby, stop taking pictures of strangers!” She didn’t understand yet, but I did. Even then, I knew I wanted to capture people, to make them timeless, to show the beauty in life, to show the essence of being human. It wasn’t until almost a decade later, in college, when I was told the word for what I was creating: portraits.
Some kids ask for a car on their 16th birthday. I asked to take a trip to New York City. I stepped onto the concrete playground and fell in love. I walked around Manhattan with wonder and Central Park in awe. It was even better than I’d hoped. I knew I wanted to live there. And now, somehow, my dream is finally coming true. Today is the day. My plane leaves Lambert in an hour. But it’s still pretty scary. I just want to find a place to call home in the creative world where I know I belong, because, for my artistic side, that place was never Missouri.
I cant wait for the adventures, the art, the creating and hating and loving and funny moments and small still silences and the crazy bustling streets and coffeeshops and the overwhelming sense of movement and life and progression and finding yourself and getting lost on the way and everything in between. A city I love, a craft I love, and time. Fingers crossed.
As I paid for my one-way ticket to LaGuardia airport, I had to chuckle, because it asked, “Business or Personal?” It’s both.