Commentary from the Red Room: Remembering a relationship according to a camera

  1. Remove film from the canister.

I am in a red room now, and it’s not because you are here.

2. Wonder if the pictures will develop– not because of self-loathing but of deep regret.

I remove the film from the canister as if it was rummaging through all the memories that were fixated on me. And though the room has to be dark, I am glad I cannot see myself. The room lights spill like a black coat and the shadow pitchess is the only solitude I feel holding this roll of film. The roll of film is oily under my skin, is it sweat or is it the roll holding control under my fingertips?

3. Delve the film into a chemical called “developer” and then “fixer” to create a negative.

I am enamored by the duality of developing film, and how often memory follows the lead. For the positive image to push, the negative must also pull– you cannot have one without the other. And I struggle with wondering why all ideas have to be understood in a pendulum, and while I wait for the film to be immersed in the developer so I can receive the negative image, I also have to wait for the positive, and for whatever reason, it’s a daunting task, scaling the relationship of a process I do not have control over

I find it funny when someone says they have good news and bad news, and decipher which one you should expose first. My friend’s boyfriend died today, and I think it takes a certain kind of person to say they want to hear the good news first, just as it is to leave your glass half empty because there is no positive to that kind of news. And though life is always a push and pull of combing through the good and bad, I struggle with the tension of knowing that when something good happens, something bad must follow. So I wait and I wait and I wait for an image of something that will never appear. 

4. For the positive, allow for the light to expose through the negative, using more developer to activate, the fixer removes any exposed silver to allow for the picture to appear, or else the photo would turn black. 

But there is no real picture, and what I thought was a core memory can only exist as a thought. After all, a picture is a picture, but the antithesis is that my mind refuses to see it even when the positive shines directly on it. 

My brain is mythology because the information grows older and more contextualized in my head, but there will be no resolution– only a freight train that continues to observe my mind. And I am hesitant to say love when someone I loved gifted me a broken camera and then left me behind. 

5. Allow for photos to sit. At this point, your images should begin to show up. Otherwise, begin to reel.

The camera was returned back to its owner and I had so many souvenirs of my traumatized mind, but none that exist in the palm of my hand.

I felt some disappointment, and at the same time, humor. 

Because the universe is mythological; and the deck of cards it deals me is symbolic of what I already know.

Of course the camera was broken.

The relationship was too. 

And I laugh. I laugh a large heckle that makes the red light vibrate. Because I have erased all traces of you, but still pivot when I realize you are actually gone, even if that means the only parts I remember are fragments, when sacracy of falling in love was blurred with lover’s strike. 

I try not to make it personal. But when you are a virgin and your whole identity transforms how somebody makes love to you, it’s hard to return to normal when you spent 2 ½ years of your life being fetishized. 

2 ½ years looking for pictures.

And I try not to make it personal, but when I look back, receiving a camera from a lover for your birthday is painfully ironic, not because you hate your birthday nor because he did not wrap it.

But the lesion of mockery became an open wound when realizing the camera never worked at all, like the relationship was a dying trade, the camera couldn’t dare capture the falsities of the entire bond. 

6. Clean up what is left.

And here I stand, inside a room that cannot see my flush nor images that held a life far away from here. Even as I stand, under the red light, meticulously honoring a relationship for the point of no return, it has dawned on me, a silver speck that you can only see from the lens of a camera, trying to tell me. 

The relationship was manhandled, and I stood under it, under constant repair, but apathy cannot translate over to the most scarlet of rooms and the metallic of images. The camera was broken, and he did not care. And I have tried to find discrepancies in the apathy, that maybe the camera was broken but he didn’t have time to fix it. But I believe the camera has chosen for me, and there are no extensions for bad character, he is an “and” not a “but” and is only understood as detachment possessing no commentary.

The world is mythological and I cannot help but wander to the statement–

Was the camera protecting me?

I imagine if I was ever to look back at a montage of it, there would be a glare in the center of the photos, preventing one from remembering the relationship as anything but terribly wrong. 

Afterall a camera is a camera, but when something that’s alive is seemingly false, and the camera is there existing in space telling me no, how can I compete? This thing summoned the relationship as a travesty, how can I separate anything else from that idea? and there is nothing left, because they are gone; I have removed him from memory, and there are no more rolls left.

7. Carry on. 

I am no longer in the red room, but holding the camera– it still feels the same.

And it’s bittersweet, when I raise the camera, and you are in the frame, I wonder again if the universe has a plan.

Because the world is mythological but so is my mind, and watching you smile at the camera was not a frame of bliss, but a portrait of a narcissist. The camera could not handle it because memory cannot compete with ego. 

But the stillness I feel emulates the patience that would never exist in me if I had looked back at your face in those photos.

Because I can still see you when the glare was white and not red, and everything that’s happened already exists in me, for I do not need the metaphysical reminder of a picture that could only carry a temporary feeling.

Forgiveness is hard because I am aware I do it in fragments.

But I cannot help how I process, I forgive myself just like I did the camera.

Because everything I wanted to happen came true, it just looks so different. 

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