Last Saturday, Zsolt was left to clean the apartment while I escaped to London for a photo shoot. Here is Zsolt: rubber gloves on both hands, Mr Muscle (cleaner) in one fist, rag in the other “There’s so much to do,” he says, correctly. Here is me: Shoes on, jacket wrapped, backpack filled, “See you later” and out the door.
Perhaps it wasn’t the best timing, but it was the only timing possible. What with this mad week of packing and shipping boxes and cleaning the flat, there was very little choice in terms of ‘waiting for a better time’ for this photo shoot. So, things fell onto last Saturday.
Train. London. Subway. Walking. Arrival. I push through this corner building’s heavy black door and entire a stark white room. This is the reception, it’s huge. In the big white room, there are small white desks, and trendy white computers. To the far, far, far away right is a large entrance to a darker room with music pumping out. It all feels very . . . cool (i.e. hip, fashionable, ‘with it’). Hmm. Suddenly I transform in a large floppy goldfish that has jumped from its tank. Fish outta water.
“Hello” said the receptionist – white blond hair, dark clothes.
“Hi, I’m looking for studio B,” I reply – dark blond hair, green scarf, blue jacket, white shoes, red bag. I’m a freaking rainbow compared to this office/studio/other world).
She directs me to a door across the large, empty reception. I thank her and figure ‘what the hell’, going forward to open the door. On the other side of this door, is another door labelled ‘Studio B’ – so guess what’s behind there?
I open the door to studio B and head down the stairs. There’s more loud music pumping away. I have a slight pause in the hallway that involved me fiddling with my purse, but really I was procrastinating that moment where I’d walk through the final door to studio B and meet whatever was on the other side.
Then I remembered that they were expecting me, and I was meant to be here.
Open the final door.
Music, loud pumping music, and people – all kinds of people scurrying around; everyone looking beautiful, everyone looking busy.
Within seconds I’m noticed and one of the assistants points me out to the photographer, who comes over and welcomes me. Actually, this group of beautiful and busy people were incredibly welcoming. I was given tea, and a place to hang out, and everyone – everyone without fail – introduced themselves. Some of the girls showed me wardrobe choices, guarded the change room (empty room, no door or curtain) while I tried things on, and then I had a lovely chat with the Japanese makeup artist who prepared me for the camera. Apparently the photographer had lined up several jobs at once for that day. I was the last shoot on the list.
Which is why, after the final models had taken their snaps, this entourage of assistants, artists and fashionistas disappeared, leaving me alone in the studio with the photographer for the shoot (Thank freaking goodness, because everyone loved to poke their heads around to the place of shooting and see how things were going. Before everyone left there was a small audience watching my test shots, and that was a-w-k-w-a-r-d.). Once things quieted down I really did begin to enjoy myself. The photographer is a fellow Canadian, so and – as Canadians are – was very friendly. We chatted about all kinds of stuff in between photographs, and he taught me this trick for the camera. When someone’s taking your picture and you want to look like you’re laughing, just say “Ha Ha Ha” aloud – and then you’ll actually laugh, because it’s a ridiculous exercise.
During the shoot, he showed me some of the photos, and yes, they look like me. This sounds strange, but they look like I feel I look, so that’ s a good sign (ever have a photo snapped and then checked the reviewed imaged, thinking “ugh – do I really look like that?” Well, no, you don’t. You just look like that when snapped by a camera without saying “Ha Ha Ha” beforehand.) We took three sets of shots: Me in my pretty dress in the studio. Me in my pretty jacket on the roof. Then me back in the studio, sitting on a stool in my pretty jacket/dress. Anyhow, the whole thing was painless.
And then, once the shoot was over, I looked around and thought, “Wow.” Because it’s been a year since that stupid lump in my breast, and if you’d have told me then (or even when the nurse was saying “you’ve got a rough year ahead”) that I’d be at a photo shoot in London one year later –posing for a photo to be run alongside an article I’d written for a national magazine . . . well, I would have pinched myself to wake up.
On Saturday I felt beautiful and excited. You never know what life has in store – for better or for worse, but when the good moments come along, good moments like last Saturday, it’s certainly worth a pause to remember how sweet life can be.
(And speaking of which, we’re now driving toward Brussels in Zsolt’s sister’s car. Time to pause again and appreciate how wonderful life is at this moment. Outside the sky is grey, rain is falling and the temperature has dropped. But who cares? I’m done with cancer, Zsolt’s done with his studies, and it’s time for a vacation. Woho!)