Friday, September 11, 2009

"Forgive and Forget"

Tom's Take Out Mark Velasquez Photography
The adage "forgive and forget" could not be more accurate; one cannot forgive someone without essentially forgetting much of the pain from the transgression being forgiven. I have always marveled at people who could "forgive and forget" for the adage in my family has always been "Forgive but never forget."

I've been mulling this over lately with members of my family, essentially calling our version of the phrase into question. Gifted with very good memories, we don't forget much. As is typical, the thing remembered, whether big or small, is logged in a wrinkle in our brains where it lays dormant, waiting for the moment of necessary recall to strike. However, does that mean that I am incapable of forgiving anyone?

I can let things go, get passed certain frustrations or pains, get on with my life and be happy, but that doesn't mean I have forgotten the disappointment in someone or the pain they've caused. Sure, it's easier to cut someone directly out of your life cold turkey, getting a rare embarrassing Christmas card from them once a year, the ones you throw away after reading perfunctorily. But that isn't forgiveness, that's ignoring them. You still feel the twinge of sadness or anger that the offense has left behind, you've just moved on. That is not what this whole forgiveness concept is about.

I hear people all the time who are good friends with ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, saying they have forgiven them for the cheating and lying, etc., that they hang out and have a great friendship. Perhaps I'm too old, set in my ways, or immature, but that makes no sense to me. Maybe they're lying, and at moments the same sting of hurt boils up, though now that they're "friends" they can't do much but ignore it. It all seems like they are deluding themselves. Maybe it's just easier to say you've forgiven the wrongdoer, to ease the other person's guilt and to end the discussion, at least temporarily. I have definitely seen those same people go through bouts of jealousy and rage for other "new offenses", emotions only heightened by the memory of the past let-downs. It's all so very confusing.

Either way, as I've stated above, I'm not good at forgiveness. Mention a past hurt and the ache of disappointment will swell once again, though thankfully not to the level of the original moment, but still. So, perhaps another adage is more correct: Time heals all wounds. Well, I don't think it heals, it just puts a lot of new memories in to fill the gaps and soften the shock and power of the bad ones.

Anyway, this is what I've been thinking about. So if you've done something wrong to me and I say I've forgiven you, I'm probably just trying to make you feel better. Sorry, I'm trying.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Philly Cheese Steak Experience

philadelphia philly cheese steaks,Tom's Take Out Mark Velasquez Photography
As I've already mentioned several times on my flickr accounts, Kacie was a blast. The eighteen hours or less I spent in Philly was more enjoyable than the several days I spent in one or two other places on my cross country trip (not West Virginia). Along with the six different photo shoot set-ups we accomplished into the early morning, we also made time to stop and compare the different philly cheese steaks offered by Geno's and Pat's, one of my goals from the very start.

They are both legendary places, and being across the street from each other made it even more convenient to take samples of each and compare in real time. Of course, first we did a shoot with Geno's as a backdrop since it was the more colorful of the two, all the while getting cat calls from loud drunks which Kacie handled by yelling profanities back at them. Only after that did we get sandwiches and fries from each place, found ourselves a table amidst the drunks, including the Toronto Blue Jay and Phillies fans who had just gotten out of their game, and began our taste test.

Not only is Kacie a perfect model, but with getting her degree in photography that week I could trust someone else to document me for the first time on the trip, which she did wonderfully.
Tom's Take Out Mark Velasquez Photography,philadelphia philly cheese steaks
I cleansed my palette as best I could between bites while Kacie took a much less scientific approach. Famished, she would take a bite of a sandwich, definitively stating that it was the best, then after eating a french fry she would take a bite of the other sandwich, seriously and definitively stating that now that one in her hand was the best. This went on repeatedly until they were both gone. Pretty hilarious.
philadelphia philly cheese steaks,Tom's Take Out Mark Velasquez Photography

Towards the end of the meal the peace and fun of the moment was broken by a throng of yelling and cursing at a group of girls walking past by another group of girls seated behind me. "Get the fuck out of here, you fuckin' Jersey Sluts! Fuckin' Whores! Goddamn Jersey Bitches!" I turned around expecting to see some type of tough, street hardened gang members, only to find four of the most innocent, sweet looking South Philly girls texting away, smoking their cigarettes and eating their sandwiches. Kacie and I looked at each other with amusement, though I am sure I had more shock and confusion on my face than she did on her's.
philadelphia philly cheese steaks,Tom's Take Out Mark Velasquez Photography
Though she is from another part of Pennsylvania, Kacie has the tough, shitty attitude that is quite at home in the tougher, more run down area that is South Philadelphia. Once the group of female roughnecks saw Kacie posing for more photos a few minutes later, they immediately became young girls again, talking about photography and modeling, asking for my business cards and wanting to pose for me. With all of them being 15 years old I let them down gently, saying they'd have to wait a while. They were very excited when I asked to take their group photo though. How could I leave without documenting them?

So the conclusion on "The Philly Cheese Steak Experience": for one, Pat's had better fries, hands down. For the sandwiches though it was far more complicated. After much deliberation I had to agree with what someone had told me earlier in the week, that Pat's has better tasting meat but Geno's has better rolls. Together they would be unstoppable, maybe they should team up...?

Quite the intense night. I was pretty worn out from the trip so far, highly satisfied with the photos I had taken that day and with the company I was presently keeping, and yet was fully aware of the daunting hours, days and weeks ahead. I couldn't help but breathe a heavy sigh of unnameable meaning while smiling the whole time. Only a month after returning did I realize that the sigh was equal parts exhaustion, amazement at the task I had undertaken and was accomplishing, and extreme joy.

By the next day I would be once again sleep deprived, taking photos in a stranger's house in New Jersey, and by the afternoon travel to New York City and beyond.