-Mates of State
Relationships are like offensive linemen in football. Offensive linemen are tasked with the blue-collar chore of preventing the quarterback from getting sacked. When linemen do well, you rarely hear about it. You might hear the analyst say: "great job by the offensive line- the quarterback had a lot of time to throw."
But you definitely hear about it in detail when an offensive lineman does not do his job and the quarterback is sacked. Our society treats marriage this way. When things are going well, we say: "wow they are still married and happy," end of story. But when things are going poorly we talk about it at length.
Just pick up any magazine or newspaper and it's filled with failed marriages, adultery, and tragedy. I guess this is what makes news, and there's not much interesting detail in a good and powerful marriage. It's human nature to take interest in tragedy and conflict, so the media barrages us accordingly.
With this in mind, I was recently at the gym, hanging on for dear life on the elliptical. A warning sticker next to the TV on the elliptical read: "If you are feeling faint, dizzy, or have trouble breathing, stop your workout."
I chuckled...are they kidding? I would never workout on the elliptical if I had to stop every time I felt those afflictions. Luckily, amongst my struggle for air, I noticed Jimi Hendrix ripping it up in an old Woodstock clip on the TV. The clip was part of a bigger story about a couple in an iconic Woodstock photo that later became the cover of the Woodstock soundtrack.
The photographer, Richie Havens, explained that Jefferson Airplane had just taken the stage, and it was early morning. Havens noticed the couple wake up, and saw them embrace, and he took the shot. I said to myself:
"It would be so nice if those two ended up getting married, and were still together forty years later. But there's no way."
I was wrong. The story turned to 2009 and showed the couple, Nick & Bobbi Ercoline, in their home welcoming Richie Havens for a visit and a 40-year anniversary photo shoot. The Ercoline's kids were just a few years away from being the same age as their parents were in that famous shot. Nick & Bobbi were in their early 20's when the photo was taken. Seeing the Ercoline family together brought it all home for me.
I'm anxious to go home and look through my parent's old photos and find their iconic moments. I'm not talking about wedding photos; I want to find natural, spontaneous photos that capture a moment, illustrating the power of their marriage.
I can say I've never woken up with someone else to a song and, without saying a word, wrapped my arms around them. Usually, SportsCenter is the first thing I hear whether I wake up with a girl or not. But I have magic moments etched in my mind like photographs. They have impact like the Woodstock photo, they have meaning, and they are part of my makeup. I remember smiles, faces, sounds, smells, and words.
The Woodstock photo is special to me because it combines something that is very close to me (music) with something that is very far from me, right now (love). When people think about "defining photos," they think about big moments. This was, however, a little moment (at a big event). I bet most "defining moments" in relationships are actually little moments: a familiar glance, a well timed embrace, a kiss.
Imagine you and your loved one had a Richie Havens documenting your relationship. What moment(s) would you photograph as a powerful defining moment, and why? Bonus points if you actually have a picture of that moment. Do you agree that the spontaneous, small, simple moments create the most powerful memories?