“Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how, in certain settings, things that are horrible, unhealthy and destructive seem normal, and no one thinks anything of it until they are past it, and most people are cured from it. High school is a horrible environment for the development of the human mind, but someone thought it was a good idea and no one noticed. At my high school, one kid died every year. It was always either a drug-related car crash or a suicide—it just alternated every year. Now that I’m in college, people day drink and become casual alcoholics, and no one thinks anything of it. When everyone leaves, they will notice it.”
"About a year ago, I had my heart broken. There was something I wanted and couldn’t have. It wasn’t the way I wanted it to be, but I had to pull myself back together, pick everything back up, and start over. I had to be myself again without him.”
“Do you feel ready to fall in love again or are you afraid?”
“There is always a little bit of fear and insecurity, but you have to learn from what happened and move on. You can be bitter and lonely or you can choose to remember the good things. Maybe next time you will see the same qualities in other people. Or maybe you will see qualities that person didn’t have.”
“My mother is Muslim, and my father is Hindu. At the time they got together, it was sort of a forbidden love. So that’s my thing now—being open-minded about all sorts of people and places because you never know who you will fall in love with.”
“My father had quadruple bypass surgery. He quit his job and asked himself, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ So he went to India, became a yoga instructor, and started studying the Vedas, which are about the meaning of life.
My sister and her husband were each making six figures plus, and they both quit their jobs and started their own business. Now they have all these investors who want to invest in their company. All this has inspired me to change my life. I’ve always been interested in nutrition and exercise, but I never really thought I could make this interest into a career.
After my seventh year working for a big company, I took a sabbatical, went to India, and became a yoga instructor. I just came back, and now I want to open my own wellness center and incorporate a nutritional aspect into it. I don’t even care about the money. I just want to share my knowledge with other people.”
“I love her crazy accent.”
“Where is it from?”
“How did you meet?”
“On a dating site. First we were friends. Then we started to talk a lot about values, love, caring. Then we became lovers. And then we became husband and wife. I thank God every day for bringing her into my life. She is a very good woman. I can’t say enough about her.”
It’s a little early for this announcement, but I’m pretty excited, and I also know that some people like to plan ahead.
Starting on May 2, a selection of photos from Portraits of Boston will be on display at the Piano Craft Gallery in Boston. The opening reception from 6 to 10pm will mark the Gallery’s grand (re)opening. Also known as the Gallery at the Piano Factory, it recently moved to a different space in the same building. I thought the folks at the Gallery, starting with director Richard Inonog, did a great job with the space. It’s brand new, bright, huge yet homey, and just about perfect.
The exhibition is free and will feature many of my favorite portraits and stories, including some that have never been shown online. Even if you’ve seen some of the portraits, viewing them in a gallery setting would be a completely different experience.
Of course, you can also finally say hi in person and ask me anything. And honestly, I am super excited to meet you.
The Gallery is located in the Piano Craft Guild building on 793 Tremont Street, a short walk from the Mass Ave stop on the Orange Line. The exhibition will be open until May 25, Fridays from 6 to 8pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 5pm.
“We are going to be really busy working all week. Taking the time to do something like this, just the two of us, is very important.”
“We are often apart because we move around all the time for work. It’s nice to have somebody who is like a constant. There are so many things in our lives that aren’t. We live in one place for only three months at a time. That’s just long enough to start to feel at home, and then we have to move somewhere else again. When everything else is fleeting, it’s nice and soothing to have something that is always the same, somebody who is always there.”
“I really want people to like me. I’ve always wanted that. I love art and I try to make people like me through art.”
“What kind of art do you do?”
“I’m a musician. It’s always been the easiest thing for me. I used to have a really bad speech impediment, so music gave me a way to express myself without saying anything.”
“The biggest challenge I ever faced was when my husband passed away. I was 24 years old, and I had three young children to raise.”
“Did you ever marry again?”
“No, no. I was young and figured whoever I married would want some children, too. I already had three and that was enough for me.”
“I am a very lazy person. I wouldn’t do anything until somebody makes me do it. He is the one who really pushes me to work hard. And that actually changed my life. Because of him I am achieving things I never thought I would. He came here to study, and I was back in India working. He pushed me to study hard and change my job. I got a job with a big firm in India. Then, I applied for higher education here and got accepted. That was like a dream. Now I have a job opportunity. All that seemed impossible to me. I wouldn’t have done any of it without him.”
“He is a little dog; he can’t walk as far as I walk. I walked him a mile in the morning, and I usually walk him a mile at night. To walk another two miles now is too much for him.”
“Life made me stronger, but it also made me look at people a bit differently. I don’t trust a lot of people because you never know who might stab you in the back.
For example, I tried to reconnect with my father, but he rejected me. He told me I wasn’t a planned baby—I was an accident. Finding out the truth may sting a little bit, but I’m going to keep moving forward. That’s just life.
I haven’t known him as a full-time father since I was six or seven. One stupid reason from his side of the family was that I wasn’t named after him. My mother gave him a second chance when I was 17, but by then I was busy working. He told me at that time that it was my choice if I didn’t want to see him. He started judging me, and the last thing he told me was if I ever went to jail not to call him. I’m 24, almost 25 now, and I’m still jail-free. I don’t do drugs and I don’t hang out with the wrong people. I still tried to put his words behind me and reconnect with him, but he shut me down and told me, ‘Fuck you! I should’ve had you aborted.’ So I thought, I’m not going to let him stop me. When I have kids, I’m going to right all the wrongs that have been done to me in my life.
It’s been similar with many of the people I considered as friends who then took advantage of my trust, which only made me wiser. Now I realize that I was too open with other people. My circle of friends used to be this big; now, it’s this small. I’m comfortable with that. One person gave me the opportunity to be a godfather, and a couple of people consider me a part of their families—that’s all I need. I know that I can’t be friends with everybody.”
“When I came to this country, I wanted to go to college. But then life happened. Life was too hard. I didn’t have any money and I had to work.”
“Are you still satisfied with your life?”
“Yes, I’m happy. I’m OK. I work eight hours a day and have a husband and two kids. My dream now is to see my kids go to college, graduate, and become successful.”
“We always talk about how amazing it is that she came all the way from South Korea and my parents came from Haiti and we meet here.”
“It’s interesting because we come from two strong cultures that are very different. It’s beautiful.”
“Sometimes, we butt heads on things, but it’s not really because of us. It’s just cultural differences. That’s the toughest part, but once you move past it, the love is even better because it’s more challenging. Everyone loves a challenge.”
“What’s one cultural difference you often face?
“I feel it’s the way we show affection. You know how Asians keep to themselves? They are very quiet, very polite, a bit too much sometimes. But America, and more so in the Haitian culture, the people are very funny, outgoing, and loud. They like music and festivals. Sometimes, I just want to have my own or our own quiet private time.”