a weekend in rhode island was just what I needed
I’ve needed a mental reset for a while. I’ve been depressed and down, with no interest in doing anything about it. Sitting on my couch wallowing in despair and ignoring everything falling apart around me had become a way of life. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t act to change things.
My sisters and I planned a weekend together at my youngest sister’s Rhode Island house weeks ago. As much as I wanted to just stay home and sulk this past weekend, I knew I had to go. I had to get myself moving, I had to find a way to rejuvenate. So I gathered my new camera and my clothes and took off with my middle sister in the hopes that this trip would wake me up.
Turns out we had a lovely, fun weekend. We went to the Roger Williams Zoo for an Asian lantern show Friday night. On Saturday we watched the annual town parade that went right past my sister’s block. Sunday was a marathon card game while we watched baseball and laughed a lot. It wasn’t anything spectacular; we spent a good amount of time indoors eating pastries from the local bakery and lounging around. It was what I needed. I needed to be somewhere else, to be with people who love me and whose personalities brought me out of my doldrums. I needed to laugh and to move around and be on a different couch. I needed to get out and walk and most of all I needed to get behind the camera again, for this is what has saved me.
When I bought the camera I knew it had the potential to be a very expensive paperweight if I wasn’t careful. That the package arrived the day before I was leaving for Rhode Island was a godsend. It was a sign that I was supposed to be doing this, that getting back to taking photographs would be the thing to upend my depression.
Walking around the light show at the zoo Friday night, camera around my neck, felt so good. It was rejuvenating. Stopping to carefully frame the pictures, to fix the settings as necessary, to concentrate on what was in the viewfinder, it was all so familiar at the same time it felt brand new. After the first few snaps, I felt born again, like I had found myself after being lost for so long. I was comfortable and in a groove, and I took a hundred pictures of that display, feeling stronger and more renewed after each one. The feel of the camera around my neck, of the controls in my hand, the satisfying click when I changed the lenses, the elation of framing a picture just so, I felt like I was back in my natural habitat after being away for so long.
I may still have a lot to learn about this camera, but I learned something about myself: I wasn’t meant to waste away in my living room by myself. Being out and about and taking photos felt so right. Being with my sisters, being away from my house felt so right.
The rest of the weekend went by in a blur. People watching at the parade was fun, and sitting outside (and getting a slight sunburn) on such a perfect weather day made me think that I need to get more use of my yard, that I should sit outside and enjoy the nice days instead of sinking into the couch for hours on end.
We barbecued, we watched Tik-Tok videos and my brother-in-law and nephew blew up a basketball. We told jokes and made fun of each other and I played with their dog and used him as a model. We ate dessert for dinner and again for breakfast and I have no regrets about that.
There’s really something to be said about a change of scenery when you’re feeling down. For me, spending all my spare time in a space that confines me and draws me into its darkness was causing my depression to deepen. Not once this weekend did I sink into despair, not once did I slip into my ongoing grief. There was a moment at the zoo when I thought of the last time I was there with with my ex, but my sisters dragged me out of that thought before it could multiply and divide itself into a crash of emotions. Being somewhere else was good for my heart and the best part is that today is Tuesday and I still feel refreshed and renewed. This weekend lifted me in so many ways. It gave me the desire to keep shooting with the camera, it gave me hope that the rest of my days could be happy and fulfilling, it made me feel like a new person, and lord knows I needed to feel that because the old me was in a bad state.
I can’t go away every weekend, but this was about more than being away. It was about doing for myself, it was about pushing my boundaries and facing life head on instead of hiding from it. I will take all these feelings with me, and use them to propel me into the next phase of my life, one in which I do instead of don’t. One in which I say yes to invitations, in which I seek out places to photograph, in which I refuse to sink into the couch again with no hope of getting up.
I hope the gift of this weekend stays with me. It’s almost summer and I am ready to make the most of it.