May, 2013

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It’s been a long time since I last posted. Life has been full.

Every morning I am woken with a kiss from my daughter. In an instant my dream world fades and I am left with the indescribable softness of her lips smushed into my face with love. She glows with an almost tangible potential and it seems wherever she goes disorder follows. Toddlerhood is both incredible and frustrating. I still watch her while she sleeps some afternoons, taking in the rare stillness and the perfect proportions of her features. The rounded eyelids and cheeks, the dimpled knuckles, the golden spiralling hair.

In many ways I don’t feel like a Mother. My mind is still the same mind of my child self, just with different thought patterns, more knowledge and a dullness which I assume is part of getting used to being alive. I expected to be transformed into someone entirely different, but I am glad to find myself still me. Still sleeping in, giggling to Peppa Pig, jumping on the trampoline at midnight, eating too much dessert and fantasising about other worlds. The thing that has transformed most is my idea of what a Mother really is.

I was feeling a little lonely in Brisbane so I organised a picnic, which I named the Plant Love Picnic. It was a celebration of how delicious healthy, plant-based food could be and a way for like-minded people to come together. I thought maybe two or three people would come along, but by the afternoon more than a dozen people were sitting around on a patchwork of picnic blankets surrounding plates of beautiful vegetarian food made with love. We talked in the gardens ’til the sun set, bonded by our want for a better world. The happy buzz from the day and the knowledge that the world is filled with such good human beings lasted for a long time.

One day we decided we’d load the car up and go on a road trip to my hometown. It took two days to drive there, with stops along the way. Hungry, tired and halfway there, I decided to get breakfast with Alba while Matt catnapped in the car, warm and cosy with the morning sun. At the time it seemed so funny to be vegetarians stopping for a meal in the beef capital of Australia. We found a nice little cafe, where I swapped out meat for avocado and mushrooms and we shared an orange juice. We stayed for a long while, me writing in my journal and Alba scribbling with coloured crayons on a notepad and somehow that little moment brimmed with beauty.

A few days after we arrived in Townsville we took the ferry to Magnetic Island. My siblings and I ran to the back of the ferry where the water and wind were wild and we clung tightly to the metal railing, shouting to one another over the roaring sound. That night we walked to the beach and my brother told me to look up at the sky, so I did, and when I did it wasn’t just a familiar background unworthy of wonder, I saw the sky and the stars for what they really were. I looked up at our universe, with its countless slowly exploding stars and enormous galaxies and I was overcome. I felt the Earth spinning beneath my feet and I felt very, very small. I looked at my family, old and new, and I realised the power of blood and the strangeness of life.

When we were younger our Mother could never afford to take us on holidays, so this trip was special. My childhood came back to me as we shared pizzas, drew in the sand and played board games. But my siblings weren’t children any more and at times it was as though I barely knew them. Still I felt a sense of love and protection for them, and the grown ups they were becoming. My brother fell the deepest in love with Alba. He has never been taken with children but he doted on her, taking his role of uncle to heart. I felt a new feeling, a feeling of pride for creating a being that brings so much joy to others. I visited my cousins and regret swept back, that they had kept on growing while I was gone. I wanted to go back, I wanted to be 14 and babysitting them all weekend, pretending they were my own children and letting them fall asleep across my lap on the couch, stroking their soft cheeks.

When we arrived home to Brisbane we knew it was time to move again. This time to the rich red soils of Toowoomba, the garden city where my auntie, cousins and grandparents live. We bid our dear housemates and our growing garden farewell and packed all of our things into boxes. There were jars upon jars of grains, nuts, dried fruits, beans and seeds I’d been collecting over the year. Time rushed as we packed, cleaned, cooked, worked and cared for Alba. As we drove away for the last time M said “It feels good to know that the gardens I leave behind will keep on growing and keep on giving,” and I let go of my sadness, like letting the ocean current carry the sand from my loose palm.

Until we find our patch of Earth our home will be ever-changing. And even when we do find land to settle and nestle into, we will still always travel. We are still young and there is so much to learn and experience. So much goodness to be found and shared. Now, a new adventure.

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  2. li zhen

    hi nirrimi
    do you ever get tired of moving around all the time? i know its romantic and lovely to see the world but it also seems like you miss out on developing real world relationships. there is a depth you miss out on moving about all the time. this isn’t an attack on the way you live, its an honest question. i just keep thinking how tiring it must get to uproot every year and move to a new place…
    all the best

  3. kari

    I just discovered your blog and love your authentic voice and dreamy photographs. I hope you continue to capture the beauty of your life and share it with others.

  4. Sara

    Alba’s the most beautiful person i’ve ever seen. She’s like a little angel.

    I love your blog!

  5. Jenn

    Is that Kedron Brook I recognize. I grew up there xx

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April, 2013

 

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Sometimes I feel guilty that my blog is so much about Motherhood now. That my creative photoshoot posts are rare. But if I’m going to keep my blog honest then it has to grow with me. And right now Motherhood and life is where I am.

This will change in time. I will always be a Mama and an avid life-documenter but as my daughter finds independence I will get more time to create.

April disappears quickly. We haven’t travelled in a while and we miss it. We check flights to Europe now and then and wish we could, but content ourselves planning our November trip instead. We’re going to Bali for a month because this is where we are hosting one of our Photography workshops next year and we have a lot to organise.

Life continues in the every day kind of way it does when you’re not travelling. So we break it and go camping. The camp grounds are strewn with coloured tents and the air is smoky from bonfires. Beyond a dip in the Earth is a beautiful swimming creek running alongside the grounds. We meet new people and we all share food and stories. I collect ‘dinosaur egg’ rocks with my cousins and float on an inflatable mattress in the river.

The night grows cold and I sit before the fire with Alba. Her arms wind around my neck as she watches the flames. In those moments being a Mama is exactly what I pictured. I may never find the right words to describe what it is like to have the gentle, warm weight of your own child in your arms (if you’re a parent, you already understand), but it holds so much meaning to me. It is something where there was once nothing. It is the strangeness and wonder that is life. That weight is the weight of the world.

We don’t have many friends in Brisbane yet but we see my Auntie and her girls a lot. The way Sommer and Alba love one another makes me melt. My auntie was like that with me when I was a baby, and maybe Alba will be that way with Sommer’s baby too.

An advertising agency hires me to shoot a campaign for The Smith Family. I fly to Sydney twice. The first time I am only there for a day to scout school locations and cast. I interview and photograph close to 50 children at Sun Studios before flying home again. A few days later I am there overnight to shoot the ad campaign. It is the first time I have been apart from Alba this long. On the flight over I feel my face burning as I try (unsuccessfully) to pump milk without drawing attention.

I stay in a boutique hotel in the city. There are a bowl of chocolates on the bed and I eat them cross-legged in my underwear, savoring my space. I thought I would be lost with loneliness and missing my family, but instead I’m rejoicing in my time alone.

It only takes me an hour to prepare and pack for tomorrow’s shoot. Then I have all this free time that for the first time in a long time I am not sure what to do with. I have a long, hot shower. I pump some more milk. I go walking in the city. Memories hit me hard. I have spent a lot of time here, a lot of things happened. The memories crowd my head so much I have to grab dinner quickly and rush back to the hotel room.

The bed is too big for just me and I sleep very soundly. When I wake at dawn my breasts are very full with milk. I was teased so much for being flat chested in highschool that I can’t help but laugh when I see myself naked in the bathroom mirror.

Someone from the production agency picks me up and we drive to the location. I have a digital operator and assistants and everyone is asking me about lighting set ups and I am trying to explain how simply I shoot. Just the sun, I say. I don’t need a lot of assisting either. I know I shoot unusually (and probably unprofessionally in some people’s eyes) but this is the way I make my images.

It is hard to foster a connection with a model when there is a big team standing around you both. So I do what I can to make space for us. The shoot is very long but the children are sweet. The clients love the images and we are all exhausted but content. They are a charity I really believe in, you can donate here and see some of my images here.

For the entire flight I keep imagining what Alba will be like when she sees me. Will she cry out “Mama” and run to me with her arms outstretched? Will she say her first ever sentence “Mama, never leave me again”? My imaginings grow more and more far-fetched. When I walk out to the baggage carousels I can see her walking around Papa’s feet. Her strawberry blonde hair looks bright and her skin glows. She is the prettiest little girl around. I can’t believe I get to be her Mama.

When Alba sees me she doesn’t even smile. She just looks at me like I’ve been here all along, as though she didn’t notice I’d gone anywhere. But in the car she holds my hand tightly all the way home.

 

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