A message to the paper girl
Don’t fall apart so easily
Don’t cry too much you’ll get all wet
My birth certificate says I was born in Lima, Peru.
The first time I met a Lima girl, I was at a college house party in Delaware, Ohio. It was 1998 and my favorite band was Guided by Voices. I still dressed like I was 14—brown corduroy bell-bottoms from a Cleveland thrift store, a tattered Smiths t-shirt with yellowing armpit stains, and beat up blue high-top Converse. It meant I was an Ohio girl interested in the only things worth being interested in: art, books, and Guided by Voices. The Lima girl stood across the room from me, leaning against the wood paneling, chain-smoking, in faded boot-cut jeans with brown leather boots and a tight-fitting party top. She was taller and whiter than I expected. She had porcelain skin with a dusting of freckles and untamed big curly reddish hair. She spoke with an accent I found sophisticated and said to me, “You know, if we were in Lima you would be my maid.”
I didn’t meet the second Lima girl I came across in Delaware, Ohio; but I’d heard she was from Lima. Fascinated, I followed her around campus for weeks, checking her out without introducing myself. I took notes in my journal: she was small and also chain-smoked and wore tiny black t-shirts. She was definitely Japanese. She had short black hair with fading pink tips surrounding a beautiful round face. She was 3 years older. She sat in the back row of our philosophy class and I sat in the front row so the professor could see me. Our philosophy professor was so old and he wore beige from head to toe and even his skin and beard matched—it was frightening and I preferred to look at the Lima girl than at this weird beige man. I had to physically turn around to see her, and I developed a kink in my neck from doing that for an hour and a half twice a week for 16 weeks.
I left Ohio when I was 19. I never went back.
Years later, I am a photographer. I photograph myself and other women obsessively. I love posing and being posed. The act of photographing is intimate.
Years later, I am a photographer. I photograph photographs obsessively. I hate posing and being posed. The act of photographing is no longer intimate, but methodical.