Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if I had to rely completely on the kindness of women who knew nothing of me, nor me of them. I have to admit, while my entire adult life has been meticulously engineered by no one other than myself, the only people outside of my family to come through for me, to offer me any kind of opportunity with no previous example on my part indicating my aptitude or abilities have been men. That is not to say that there haven't been numerous women who have come through for me, who have given me chances and job opportunities beyond my wildest imagination - it's just that they've never done it intuitively. They've never done it without overwhelming proof of my competence and I can't say that I blame them - it's taken me years to develop what I consider to be some "pretty decent" people-reading skills and I don't know that I would completely trust another person either (man or woman) without knowing much about them.
For some reason, in high school, I was one of those "chicks" that just got along with mostly dudes. I always had other chick friends but the guys I hung out with were predominantly either my buddies from the (almost) all guys water polo team on which I played or the sweetheart-burn-outs I had been friends with since elementary school. As I got older, I am pleased to report, it became easier to relate to other girls who (like myself) weren't exactly tom-boys but always seemed to find ourselves to be one of the very few girls in the boys' club. Photography is notoriously a "gentleman's hobby"; visual effects and film production even more so at times, as I came to learn. But, man, do I love a challenge!
When I interviewed for my last job on the recommendation of a shared former professor, the boss and I mainly just talked about photography for a good while. At the time, it was probably funny that we had opposite methods for arriving at the same conclusion - I loaded my 4x5 film holders with the notch in the upper right-hand corner, him with the notch in the lower left. Over the seven years we worked together, these polar opposites would punctuate our differences, much like our fixed cardinal birth signs - his mirroring my mom's (of all people!) and provoking some heated verbal exchange from time to time. (hilarious in retrospect!)
Over the years, on occasion, I've almost accidentally called him a variety names - dad, Fred (the 17-year-old cat's name!), my pimp (he's called me everything from baby to bitch) and I think he or his wife once decided that if he had an evil twin, that would somehow describe our relationship. Once, for what felt like almost a year (though it was probably just 3-4 months) I was in such pain from a shoulder injury that I was just the most horrible person to him on a daily basis. When I eventually started feeling better, I felt so awful that I sent him cookies on location which was immediately reciprocated with a charmed, drunken, free-postcard he penned from our little visual effects team while in a bar. I was just relieved to be exonerated so easily...
And now, after all of this, after finally being set free of any work-related obligation to me, this saint of a guy (and his entire brilliant family, I should add) still puts up with me for absolutely no other reason I can think of besides our shared taste in food, espresso, tea, gin and beer. I'm sure that must be it. That and photography... oh and fresh, local produce. Maybe gardening and exercise too but that's it. I always try my best to make it a reciprocal relationship but the truth is that there is nothing even close in my material life that could make the kind of impact on him that he has on me. There are old walls, deep within my core, that make it hard for me to accept even the kindness of family let alone close friends - I know if he gave me the choice rather than just being himself, I wouldn't allow such a person in my life and would lose out. Perhaps one day I will be fortunate enough to repay the favor but for now, all I can do is be grateful.