The True Beauty Of A Woman
Many, many years ago when I was an awkward, shy and absurdly skinny 12 year old student at Brooklyn’s Junior High School 126, a girl passed me a red token. It was one of those silly souvenirs you can get at a machine with your own personal message written on it. The token I received on that school bus returning from a day long trip to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia read, “Denise and David Forever”. Yes, it was one of those silly adolescent tokens of love (or infatuation anyway) but one that led to a long and interesting friendship. The romance did not last long due to my inability to endure the pressure of having one of the cutest girls in the school as a “girlfriend”. The pressure was immense, especially at the bus stop where all of her friends and all of my friends stood around just waiting for us to kiss. Stupidly, I gave in to my social shortcomings and broke up with her even though I really liked her a lot. And for the next 2 years I had to endure seeing her walk in the hallways hand in hand with some other boy, tightening up my chest to the point where I sometimes could not breathe.
After graduating from Junior High we both went on to different High Schools, but reconnected again in College. We became really good friends, hanging out together and even working together at a commercial greenhouse out in Queens. After awhile I decided to ask her out to dinner, a date. She gave me a sheepish, sweet smile and said, “Dave, we need to talk”. That’s when she confessed to me that she was gay. I was crushed. It took a long time to get over it but I did, somewhat (I still wonder at what might have been) and over the years we have tried to be their for each other. She would come over to my apartment whenever her latest crush broke up with her. Her older brother, a long serving and decorated Police Officer (as was she at this point) perished in The Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. She was there when my children were born and always attends my art openings. We even toyed with the idea of her being my “best man” at my wedding back in 1995. But that didn’t quite happen.
Speaking of weddings, this past Sunday she married her partner in a beautiful service in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at a restaurant overlooking the East River with magnificent city views. Of course I brought my camera to the event hoping to get some nice images. I did get one or two (out of about 2 hundred shots!). But what I really wanted to talk about in this blog post was the reaffirmation of something I always believed. The true beauty of any woman is something that comes from inside. When a woman is truly happy or is truly genuine some way (don’t ask me how) or is really confident and comfortable with her “self” then it radiates outwards. It is most evident in her smile which lights up her face. It could be a big, heart felt smile or a more subdued, earnest look.
For a while I have been taking photographs of my friend but I was never really able to capture in the images what I saw in her. The photos always felt lacking, drab almost. That is until I photographed her wedding and saw, in the moment after the official said, “You are now married!” , the look of pure happiness in her face. She was truly in love.