|ALMOST BLUE by Michela Curti|
I have walked down this road so many times on my way to a swim. I play music as I go. I undress and then plonk into the cool water and I push out towards the rising sun and after a few strokes I turn and float on my back and it feels glorious. This day though, I am meeting Michela to whom I wrote in July after seeing her work on her website via a Twitter suggestion. What was it that inspired me so much about her work? I think it was that I understood it. I am a bear of little brain but, in this case, I felt almost that I could have taken these photographs myself. They would not have been so good of course but I felt I understood the mind behind them.
And there she is. Standing at the rail of the bandstand looking out, utterly bewitched by what she sees. I hope that she will not turn round before I reach her - she doesn't and I come up behind her and introduce myself with the words "Guess who?" She turns to say hello. She is wearing glasses and immediately, I want her to take them off so that I can see her eyes. I don't know whether we kiss or shake hands but we settle into easy conversation. I take her down on to the beach and we sit for a while and she takes this photograph. It says everything about that day and yet we met only ten minutes before. It shows that, from the very first moment we met, we knew each other. We then move round to the apron at the front of the small brick pier and this is where I take this photograph of her.
She takes more photographs during the afternoon and they are full of discovery and empathy but these two are all you need to comprehend the friendship that we were both given this day. We then go to The Mock Turtle Tea Rooms because I want her to sample the Welsh Rarebit. It is our waitress' first day and she doesn't know what Welsh Rarebit is but I point it out on the menu. Michela says that she likes it. I hope she does. We wander back to my house and on the way, we talk about everything - our families, her boyfriend Matteo, her work, my project, the sea. She struggles with her English and apologises for it but I know what she is saying. At home, I show her some of my films and the book I devised about my mother's theatrical photographs. I ask her to choose a record from the stack of 45s on the shelf in our sitting room. It is "I Go to Sleep" by The Pretenders. The words don't fit but the lazy warmth of Chrissie Hynde's voice does. The evening beckons and it is time for her to go. She lingers by the door and then we hug, as she said, like old friends. I tell Jane about my day with Michela and she smiles. In the meantime, Michela goes down to the shore and sits and thinks.
We meet one more time - the next morning, briefly, before she travels up to London with her young cousins. I arrive on the front and text her "I am here". She replies immediately "Me too" and I see her walking quickly along the path towards me. She does not have much time. We hug. She gives me a present she had forgotten to bring yesterday. I touch her cheek gently with the back of my hand and she turns to go. I turn to go and I reach the pavement just in time. I watch her walk away and for a short while after she disappears, I carry on looking at the empty space she occupied a few seconds before and then slowly I lift my eyes to the sea beyond.
It is almost blue.