Skinned Knees, Wuthering Heights, and South Korea

While shooting wildflowers up close may invoke yoga muscle memory, shooting a landscape of not-so-wild flowers from the ground invokes many childhood memories. First, there is the memory of scraped knees as I kneel onto the sidewalk with my older-than-their-years knees and feel a stab of pain. This is a different stab of pain than the feeling of having your flesh grated by concrete (an all too familiar feeling for me). But being outside fascinated enough by the way the sun hits different flowers as it pokes through holes in the clouds to set up a tripod flat to the ground and then kneel down to look through the viewfinder to see what I can see, that feeling invokes the feelings of exploring and trying something new–a feeling my childhood was full of.
My photo album from my childhood is full of pictures of me in dresses with both knees scraped, bruised, or stained white from climbing a big white fence in our back yard.
I could never get away with anything on today’s world–I left way too much DNA evidence behind everywhere I went. This is still true today. It’s hard for me to make it around the park without a single stumble. At least I outgrew the desire to wear dresses all the time.
I try sitting all the way down to the ground on one hip. My knees are grateful, but my neck kinks as I twist to look in the viewfinder. Is getting older really better than the alternative? I would prefer a just staying young choice.
As I look up the slope with its long grasses and mixed flowers, another memory comes to me. It’s a memory of reading Wuthering Heights. I don’t know what a landscaped slope in Chattanooga, Tennessee has to do with an English moor, but I am suddenly reminded of the Monty Python skit where Catherine and Heathcliff are running towards each other across the moors and inevitably pass each other (since it was a Monty Python skit).
But the memory of Wuthering Heights takes me to another place. It takes me back to South Korea where I spent 4 months when I was 18. I bought a bunch of books there. They were pirated classics, poorly copied and poorly bound, but they were the only affordable books in English I could find.
In a place where everything felt different and strange, I found a little slice of “home” by reading stories that took place in England, where I’d never been. I wonder why that felt familiar?
Today, I wrap up my shoot and slowly stand, testing my sore knee gingerly before putting weight on it. I try to imagine Heathcliff and Catherine with my knees running across the moors. If it would have been me, I would have tripped at the last second and cracked heads with Heathcliff. I should have been on Monty Python.


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