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Connection #1: "When There's a Photo Booth, Use It!"

I have never known wisdom to be found at the feet of a guru.

True wisdom appears in the nooks and crannies of life, the tucked away corners of diners, coffee shops, and small parks. It manifests itself over the steam from lavender scented lattes dancing with the bittersweet scent of black espresso. You find it in the smiles, the cries, and the biscuit flights shared when you are old enough to appreciate open eyes and ears.

It happens when the sea, the air, and the dirt meet, right in front of your eyes, the everyday life that hides the miracles most of us pass by every day.

There has always been something ephemeral about Jamessina Hille; she is made more of air and the sea than most. In fact, I couldn’t blame you if your spent time with her wondering when it would end as a sea breeze came through to carry her away. Her presence is light, vibrant, and electric. She is brilliant, a luminary growing brighter by the day, with a heart so full of passion it completes the wondrous picture that she is.

Saying that she is beautiful is unfair. It’s just the surface, the sheen on someone who wears her spirit so clearly, so openly, that to look upon her face alone is like spending the sunrise on the beach facing West. She is the type of person whose eyes you look at almost jealous of what they looking at the world you share. There is something there, something just beyond the crest of her eyelashes that you just can’t quite comprehend, something wondrous.

I’ve known Jamessina for some time, though we have only shared a few cups of coffee, a few moments like these, usually with large gaps between them. She and I had a cup of coffee when I began the first leg of this journey, as I set out to tell the first 100 stories. It’s always amazed me how clearly she can hear my story, my voice, not missing a beat of when it is really me talking, or when I am trying on the hats of so many others.

She tells me she has been listening to my podcast, about the moment there when she truly heard me, about how happy it makes her that I found that voice again. There is so much honesty to her, it both lifts my spirit and weighs me with the gravity of knowing I went away for a moment, and people noticed.

Over coffee and biscuit we talk about proximity, about the concept that we learn and grow from our closeness to other human beings. In the few conversations like this we have had, I have always felt that Jamessina sees me more clearly than most. She tells me about her exploration of proximity. My friend is exploring proximity; the learning and growing that can only be accomplished when you are near people, when you spend time with them, when you share life with them.

We talk about falling, about how much more necessary it becomes as we get older and more set in our ways. In the past year my friend and I have both struggled with things, with words from outside shaking our cores. In so many ways we are different, our worlds have been defined by so much that is opposite, and yet we find the same troubles in our lives. She tells me about her journey to find her center. I tell her about hiding the darker side of things. We talk of The Lion King, of remembering who we are, and the lessons we learned as children.

I sip the bitter remnants of my second coffee, that silken mud driving the remainder of my morning. This is when we take a picture, a frame of two people who have connected. My friend gives me wisdom.

“Whenever there’s a photo booth, use it!”

I know about survival. Jamessina knows about life. We are two people who began our lives on different sides of the coin who meet happily at the edge. She knows more about living life to its fullest than I do, about finding the tiny cracks where the amazing can occur and digging deep to find it. We spend a few minutes getting the photo booth to work.

It is among the best few minutes I have spent in my life.

Then our time is over. We head out into the rainy day of Charleston, her to flight, me to my dreams of one day touching that same air. She is right. These moments in proximity have shown me a greater wisdom; have reinforced my heart as I move forward, through the rain, through the day, through life.

I’m going to tell a story. She is going to spend time with her family. I smile on a rainy day for the gift the world has in her, in her entire family, in the changes that will come from them as surely as this rain will lift.

My friend is not a guru. She is so much more. She is a human being, with all of the beauty, the pain, the petty flaws, and grace that accompany our nature. Jamessina is a teacher if I have ever met one. Not by profession, but by life. She teaches her children, her friends, young women going out into the world, and a writer who needed to learn the truth about photo booths and living.

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