The night I got home from my trip we headed to a very popular beach burger joint for some good greasy food and a walk on the pier. We finished dinner just as the sun was sliding towards the water and we climbed the stairs to the long pier, chasing the light. I swung Anya up onto my shoulders and giggled with her as she bent down to see my face, delightedly saying “HI!” as she caught my attention. She squirmed to be set free and so I let her go, watching my girls move like drunk little bumper cars, running from side to side, alternately fascinated with the water, the surfers, the sun. Out at the end Lily asked for the camera and so I slid the strap around her wrist and let her have at, hoping she’d get something good in the dying light and steadily creeping fog. After several photos of feet, Mark told her to take a shot of something else, like maybe the trash can. So she did. I love the way she shoots, never totally in focus of the intended subject, shouting “SMILE” before every click, even if she’s photographing something like the railing or a bit of seaweed. She sees things we cannot, finds beauty in the act of shooting, thinks every photo is an act of joy. When I show her the photos later she’ll clap her hands with delight, pointing out every detail, giving me a clue to what she was thinking when she shot, so often not at all what I thought of as the focus. I forget that a three-year-old sees the world from a totally different angle, finding startling things passionately beautiful. But isn’t that what beauty is? finding little things everyone else misses and calling them your own. If all of us thought the same thing beautiful, we’d all be in a riot to claim it for our own. This way, we can all stretch out a hand and say, “This. I choose this as my perfect beauty.” I love that.
But then, I may be a little drunk on the scent of my children’s hair and high on the way they tilt their head when they laugh. Three days without ones kids can do that to you. And that? Well, that is beautiful.