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Stories like this usually have a weird beginning; an opening sentence that grabs reader's attention straight away. Like''It was entirely the toothpaste's fault,''or 'Everything had gone terribly and horribly wrong that morning,''or even the classic, 'On a dark and stormy night,'. This wasn't the case. None of these one-liners could describe how it really went that morning.
It was nearly the direct opposite of these drama-filled beginners - every event of that morning had taken place as usual. I'm an obscenely rigid creature of habit thus my schedule is never changing, rarely interrupted, (and I would prefer to keep it that way.) As I did every morning, I woke up, had some coffee, took a quick shower, ate a vanilla yogurt and half an apple with my favorite daisy-print spoon, and sat down to check my email. Next going on to style my hair, organize my completed homework into my bag, throw on a coat, and complete the daily routine with a snatch of the papers waiting for me and a dash out the door toward the bus stop.
5th and Allende. That's where I waited. Every morning. At 7:12 am. Every morning. The bus would sometimes arrive at 7:14, ashamed with its tardy arrival as it emits curling ribbons of exhaust and guilt. These 7:14 am appearances were unusual. I knew the bus found as much comfort in continuity as I did. It was almost always 7:12.
I glance down at my cuff-watch to see 7:11 am looking back at me. It was almost time. I carefully folded my New York Times, USA Today, and this month's Rolling Stone into a small bundle as I did every morning; three folds and a '' rubber band would prevent the delicate paper from any tears or creases. I ensured that my AP Physics book and Honors U.S. Government and Politics worksheets would never crush them.
The doors swing open as a surge of cool air rushes from the bus's double-doors. I look down again to see 7:12, I smile, nod to the driver, and take my usual seat. My territory was on the left side of the aisle, fifth from front, middle blue bench, backpack set on my right side. Every morning. The street lights of New York waved 'good morning', just as they always did. Here's to another day of high school'
I no longer ride the bus. Nor do I need to worry about finishing my homework or being at least half an hour early for first-period Homeroom. I don't even have to worry about subscribing to the Rolling Stone anymore; my ID card bears the words 'Chief of Photography' under the title of 'Editorial Staff', always granting me a free copy fresh off the press. Today it was permitting visitor pass-free access into Robert's High School, plus inspiring a few middle schoolers to ask for my autograph.
'It should feel comfortable to me now; yet seeing my name in print still gives me that elated feeling that is so crucial to my being.' How do you describe such a thought to a class of high-school aged potential journalists? With examples. 'I live for that feeling. I get it every single time an article or photo of mine runs on the pages of the Stone, Times, even on the Internet.' They casually flipped through the copies I handed out.
'I first felt it as I saw my name typed in the Spokesman Review, a small and virtually unknown paper. That was nearly 40 years ago at the age of 15. As I look back on my 52 years on this planet that moment will forever rise above everything I love.' They see it. The picture is obvious.
They will ask questions about the picture. They slowly absorb the striking black and white portrait of me with 41 stitches, 2 black eyes, 3 broken fingers, a shattered shin, and a smudge of blood visible on the camera's lens. This story always comes up, and I am eager to tell it. We all know that scars can't tell everything.
'How does that work?'' I asked myself. 'My map must be upside down'or at lease backwards'' I chuckled. This confusion had lasted throughout the last three hours I'd spent flipping through my guidebook, checking my map, and trying unsuccessfully to ask strangers for directions. There was the all-important and nearly un-fathomable language gap. At least the residents of Jaipur, India were getting a kick out of this blonde foreigner, running around with a creased map and a camera bouncing around her neck.
'There's got to be an easier way, seriously!' I had partially given up - yet part of me loved a challenge such as this. I loved anything that required me to do a little foot-stomping and critical thinking. This was definitely one of those situations. 'Screw it'I just walk.' I set off down the dusty sidewalk, facing the traffic speeding by and throwing sand into every one of my pores.
I snapped some of my greatest photos here; ones that would find themselves 10' x 18' and hanging on the wall in the Museum of Metropolitan Art. The views of the people, food, animals, culture, even the emotions of Jaipur itself were beautiful. Each frame was filled with a want to be captured, and I was the capturer.
Facedown. That's where I found myself. First gazing up at the blazing Indian sky and seconds later seeing nothing but ground. Ground and dust that was damp with blood and my own tears. Was it my own blood? No one else was around, it had to be. The car tracks swerving down the road, obscured by the loose dirt and gravel told me all I needed to know about the force that hit me from behind. I would never see them again.
Still lying on the ground, I instinctively reach for my camera. It was thankfully still hanging safely from my neck with the lens cap hanging to the side. I do all I know how; turn the camera looking into the telephoto lens and take one shot. The one shot is all I needed.