TIAA #11: “She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”

Tosin’s Images & Anecdotes (TIAA) is my self-assigned photography challenge of 2022. The immediate objective is to select one image from my inventory (a cityscape, landscape, portrait, oddity, etc.) each week and write something about it. This “something” could be the story behind the photo, a triggered memory in relation to the photo, or simply a reaction or reflection based on the subject matter featured. The long-term objective is to encourage myself to add more content to “La Vue Atypique”, which celebrates its first decade in publication this year.

“She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” / Queen Anne Hill, Seattle, Washington, USA / April 24, 2014

What can I say about the photograph above?

This week’s photo is taken from my “2014 : 365” photo challenge, when I challenged myself to take at least one photo of any subject matter every day of the year.

On April 24th of that year, I was walking through the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle and I remember walking past this house on my way to a local coffee shop. It was a gorgeous, delightful, and breezy Spring day in the city — the type of day that makes you happy to be alive and grateful for what and who you have in life. Interestingly, I recall that I didn’t initially stop walking when I first came across this scene. However, my brain could not — and would not — stop processing all the elements of what I had seen, especially the undeniably beautiful blanket of pink blossoms covering the entire front yard of the house.

It was literally the definition of “picturesque“.

My brain was communicating that, as a photographer, I needed to turn around, return to the front of the house, and capture the scene. I am so grateful that I followed my instincts. When this photo was taken, a pedestrian could fully view, admire, and appreciate the charming glory and allure of Mother Nature’s work in an urban setting. Today, the property is completely closed off by a fairly tall wooden fence similar to the one seen along the right side of the frame in the featured image.

Because we recently entered the Spring season in the planet’s northern hemisphere, I thought it would be pleasant to share one of the most indelible images from my inventory to commemorate the new season.

In Japanese culture, cherry blossoms, or “sakura”, represent change — not just in the transition of winter to spring, but renewal in life as well as the idea that nothing in life remains constant. Impermanence. Sakura represents the notion that things always change, which can be either joyous or melancholic, jubilant or woeful — but forever unavoidable regardless. As a nerdy anime fan, I have noticed how several anime series incorporate the oncoming of Spring with Japan’s mesmerizing cherry blossoms. They are often used as metaphors to identify the coming of age for main characters in different series, signifying how their lives have changed over time and how they have changed in personality or maturity. It’s such a beautiful and thought-provoking concept.

Alas, you may be wondering why this article has such a peculiar title. Please allow me a moment to elucidate.

If you have been following the TIAA articles in this blog, you’ve discovered that I have revealed bits and pieces of my own personality. You know that I constantly worry about things I cannot control. You know that I don’t have tolerance for racism and so many of the “-isms” and phobias that cause human beings to deliberately misjudge, discriminate, and marginalize others. My chronic worldview of realism forces me to walk a very narrow, tight, and fine line between hopeful optimism and debilitating pessimism when it comes to humanity. You know that I believe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a completely senseless and devastating abomination that sets our civilization backwards.

To add to the list, I’m also a pathetically incorrigible, hopeless romantic. If you don’t believe me, check out the unabashedly open love stories that I’ve written in the “Postmarked” series for this blog. They should remove all your doubts.

When I first captured the featured photo, the scene reminded me of a song from the Swedish pop/rock band Roxette called “She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”. Roxette has been a personal favorite band of mine since I was a high school student living next door to Sweden in Norway. (Rest in Peace, Marie). I won’t go into too many details but I’ll just say the image created a story in my mind in which one discovers his or her partner has suddenly departed her residence without any warning or notice. She’s gone without a trace — even though what remains is still beautiful.

12 articles down for the TIAA challenge. 40 remain!

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