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The Collective Heartbeat

I arrived in the city yesterday where I spent nearly four years growing up. I spent most of my time feeling like I didn’t belong, a country girl through and through in the city of Brotherly Love. I felt often like an outsider, both disliking the city and admiring it from afar, my best memories being those where I felt wholly included. An example is a time when I was walking through the city and a car beeped it’s horn. The beep was long and at first irritating until more cars joined in. Suddenly all of the people on the streets started yelling at the same time that the cars were beeping, and when it all finished everyone gave hugs and high-fives and then went on their way. I never liked cities much, but sometimes the heartbeat of a city is enough to keep the love alive.

I rode to my hometown on the train like I have done a dozen times before. I found myself staring intently at the houses out of the large window wondering if I saw them any differently. I had expected to, thinking I had somehow changed. To my surprise it all looked familiar, like an old friend greeting me, and I responded in kind with a grateful smile. I watched the houses and trees in the setting sun until the sun was almost gone from the sky and the trees and houses turned into shadows of themselves. I squinted in the darkness to see something more until the only thing visible was my own reflection in the glass. I saw myself there that day in a way I had not before. The way I saw Philadelphia had not changed, but my place in the city had.

Instead of living and breathing the city like I had done before I merely watched it from afar, a train rider at dusk looking out to a city she once owned. Much like re-reading your favorite childhood book, the words don’t change but the meaning does, and that is a good thing. Without understanding where you have been it is difficult to understand where you are going, or where you are now. I see the city in much the same way as before, but now I am curious about the stories that can be found here, and how I can translate them into a timeless photograph. I have never been one for cities, but that collective heartbeat has my creativity singing, and I am not one to ignore inspiration when I recognize it.

{ 7 } Comments

  1. Kelsey | November 20, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Beautifully written, you have a lovely voice. I’ve felt the same thing with San Francisco and it’s interesting when we recognize a connection in a place where we feel so disconnected.

  2. Carol | November 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Are you letting people meet you when you have your train shoot? I live in that town and’d love to see ya.

  3. Rhiannon | November 20, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    So beautiful Brooke! Your words always leave me speechless…

  4. Carl Hensley | November 21, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Socrates would be proud of you :)

  5. Beata Rydén | November 22, 2012 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    The way you describe the feeling, as reading your childhood book again, but seeing how the meaning changes, I can relate to that. When you go back to something, a place or a book or a movie, you can understand from another perspective why that was important for you at that period of time. And it will always be like that, you can always go back to get new perspective. Myself, I’m raised in a city, but I’ve always felt a longing to live in the country, so my dream is to once have my own house with a lot of nature around :)

  6. Brooke Shaden | November 22, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Hi Carol!
    I am actually bringing my whole family along and I am doing some family portraits and only later a fine art shoot, so I think I’m going to have to stick to family on this one – it pains me to say it as I always love to meet up with lovely internet people! But I need some quality family time since I’ve been so busy lately and I only see them once a year. I hope you understand :-/ Next time!!

  7. Diane | November 26, 2012 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    When does you novel come out, I’d love to read it, your a talented writer, always have been, but now I see you have honed your craft! Love. You<3

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