From birth until age twenty-something, one of my most dominant personality traits was a cartoonishly exaggerated naiveté. When kind people inevitably spotted this trait in me, they’d often pat me on the head and say “awwwwww, Topher”! Others who were less kind might just sneer. Either reaction made me blush, which I hated. I’ll never forget the day I first spotted it in myself. It was like rolling my eyes backward and seeing my own brain. I was three beers into a throw-away Saturday night at some bar, somewhere in my life before Halifax. I was sitting beside a friend who was explaining that his dad was either born in a pig pen or discovered as a baby in a pig pen (I can’t remember exactly how it went). It felt like a sad story to me, but not without elements of hope. A really good friend of his, who also sat listening intently, suddenly jabbed her finger forcefully into his chest and said “Bettis, you’re the most full of shit person I’ve ever met in my life”. And they bickered back and forth with such vehemence that I thought that they might get into a fist fight. Then Bettis would get in a really witty insult and they’d both laugh and their eyes would twinkle, and I knew they loved each other. When they launched into another round of bickering, they hated each other again. The next explosion of laughter meant their love must have returned. As my mind flitted back and forth between extremes in feeble attempts to understand this social interaction, I suddenly felt one of my brain cells slap itself in its forehead: “Oh I get it” I blurted, “you guys are just playing”. They rightly ignored my a-ha moment and kept on with what they were doing.
A decade later, I’m still a bit naive at times, and I had exactly the same moment, internally, when I met up with Krista and James. At least twice during our engagement session with these two, as they were rolling their sushi, I thought that they were angry with each other and I was embarrassed to be pointing a camera at them. Then they’d giggle or look at each other the way people who love and trust each other do. I was a little quicker to catch on this time. They were playing. They’re teasing each other was one of the ways they expressed fondness. And there’s a stability, a security, a boldness, that allows for this kind of banter, and I admire it. They’re both so confident of their love for one another that they can tease, can razz each other up, can pick each other up when on the surface it might look like they’re putting each other down. It’s pretty hilarious to watch and I respect the bold playfulness.
Yeah, to me, the phrase “bold playfulness” fits these two really well. During this photography session we played in the streets of Halifax’s downtown, took the camera into The Lower Deck, played in the rain, played on the countertop of ‘Two if by Sea’, and we won’t show you all the photos. But that was bold too.