Floral: Denys Mertz & Stephanie Tarrant
Photo: Stephanie Tarrant & John Sims
New Orleans, LA
June 23, 2018
April 14, 2018
showing up for your friends is important
*quote about the plans we make for the fate we never really control, and how greater pull directs us and projects stuff we never thought we wanted and how we float on despite it*
I remember sitting in the kitchen at 3035 when Katie said her and Tyler weren't planning to have kids.. and furrowing a brow. Not because I didn't respect that decision or hadn't heard it before.. most of the people in my circle have chosen nontraditional routes into adulthood, swapping conventional milestones for a solo flight.
But simply because I knew their plan wouldn't hold up.
We always hear about the great exceptions to rules, the stories, the friends who did this but got that. Faith in god or the universe or attraction can comfort, but what a beautiful thing to catch the moments your life changes, unbeknownst to greater plans of how you pictured your life to look. And what a gift giving and loving life can be?
Tyler and I grew close the summer he and Kate split. When they found each other again, Katie and I immediately connected. The call from inside a homemade fort to tell me about their engagement was just the beginning. Every influence, every hint, everything I knew about these two added up to something so great, unexpected and fitting. My first ever attempt at standing up in a wedding and photographing (most of) it happened in Vegas with these cats, and the memories I cherish so fondly.
Every visit with them-as few and far between as they may be-marks growth: a time to reflect on who we are, were and want to be, recalling where we've been while away. My friendship with them has never wavered or been compromised. I hold the countless hours spent sipping and spilling tea, numerous photo sessions, being a bridesmaid to my dude's girl and loving their families close to my chest. Documenting the barbeques and the *I dos* over the last three years has been more than sentimental.
When Katie told me they were expecting, I tried to act as surprised as I could. I cried and somehow always knew these terrific, honest and genuine people were destined to create something equally loving and lovable.
Our talks about motherhood, childbearing, parenting and fulfilling the life you've wanted while nurturing the one you've been given has helped me cope through major turning points and uncontrollable outcomes. There are only so many things we are in charge of, like the time we make for our friends, the advice we choose to take, the place we want to exist and our attitude about source.
Ty and Kate, you demonstrate the greatest example of love, patience, courage and acceptance, all of which you've given me and I know you will put forth into parenting.
So, without further ado, here's Javier James Buffington, JBuff, Hurricane Javi, my new bud.
I'm so proud, and I love y'all.
..and it was everything I needed.
Three days of rain and three Brooklyn bagels later, the sun met me in Greenwich Village.
I became captivated by the perfectly clever beast that is the transit system, and spent five days riding it. I learned to follow the The Empire State Building like it was the North Star, and to never by any means get on an empty train car (there's always a reason).
In New York, nobody cares about you, and it's incredibly humbling feeling so small. There are millions more immigrants, artists, students, activists, celebrities and trashbags on the sidewalk than there are in Chicago.
There's something about anxiety and depression that goes after the ego. There is something about New York City that wakens the adventurer, attracts the curious, cosmic consciousness at your feet.
Days of exploration patched a few leaks in my spirit and woke up the small part of me that lives for city life.
On this trip, I learned that the Irish lads in Queens truly do not sleep and will lock you into their bar when it's after hours with fifteen other locals so you can continue drinking or punching each other in the face over political views.
I consumed copious amounts of tofu schmear. I burned my tongue on Thai cuisine. I bought heavy chopsticks for shaky hands. I touched E. E. Cumming's desk and nearly caught fire. I ate cotton candy in a lonely Coney Island. I wrote, I read and I slept soundly in a cozy Sunnyside apartment.
I saw Lady Liberty for the first time while she was lit up at night. I marched through Central Park in the rain and dried off inside the Met. I was illuminated in Times Square. I stood where thousands of lives were taken without permission. I photographed old buildings and read somewhere "Life started when I got to New York."
With every low-budget-trip I haphazardly afford for the sake of experience, I fall in deeper in love with myself and the things I'm capable of.
I had a really great time being a tourist and taking the same steps so many before me have taken. And now, it sounds really, really nice to disappear somewhere much older, wiser and bigger than me outside of the Midwest.
so here are some photos of the summer.
Texas looked exactly how I thought it would. The moonshine in Mississippi poured expectedly, and the group of heathens I traveled with took care of me.
We left Chicago two weeks ago, though it feels like it's been months since I've returned. I can hardly remember the daily punches, insightful thoughts, memorable moments or much of the trip at all since most of it was spent drinking on top of smoking on top of more drinking.
I still haven't been able to shake the feeling of home that I found in new places: something I must have found within myself on the road that escapes me even in my own loft, or my parents house.. Something I can't explain much at all.
The weeks leading up to the trip were long and stupid, and the week following has followed suit. I'm still broke. I'm still restless. And I'm still consumed with thoughts of leaving.
I thought I'd have much more to say about Morgan Freeman's bar, or the toilet paper you can't flush at Willie Nelson's dive, or Deak, or the South or my life, but I don't. I hardly wrote anything while on the road, and I don't have much insight to share here.
But I do know it was worth it, and taking opportunities to travel matters. Aside from my first ever PTO/Friendsgiving trip in 2014 which resulted in my shitty termination of my first full-time job, I have only traveled for work, and occasionally allowed myself to play.
So, my hope for this year is to travel every three months, knowing that I know I can save $550 working part-time with inconsistent pay and unreliable clientele. Because even if I didn't find all the answer I sought, or write as much as I thought, the memories I have are golden, and those alongside me are now family. And taking one trip isn't going to fix my depression or eliminate negative thoughts or fill me up higher or make life easier or get me a fucking job, but it did remind me how good I am at traveling and making a home out of reclaimed material, champagne in plastic cups, pints of slaw and a cargo van.
Sometimes we gotta be uncomfortable in order for growth.
Here I am; I am growing.
It would be difficult to describe the joy and excitement felt in the Anna Held Floral Studio without mentioning the struggle and patience it took to get here: days away from a grand re-opening that took two years and some change to plan.
The Edgewater Beach Apartments was built in the 1920s, a woman named Anna Held opened a flower shop during a bygone era and Beth Tenney, my godmother, has been designing some of the most beautiful floral arrangements in the historical landmark for over 30 years.
Two years ago, new management, lease negotiations and building code left us with a single choice: move down the hall, abandon the marble soda fountain where beach-goers and Chicagoans took refuge and build a new home out of a vanilla box, the commissary. The apothecary cabinets, the original marble fountain and a few silk flowers remain in the vacant storefront that housed neighborhood gossip, fed the elderly residents and documented the height lines of every peewee who grew up in it, myself included.
When you drive past the big, pink building on Sheridan and Bryn Mawr, the words "Breakfast, Soda Fountain and Flower Shop" still read clearly facing northwest, but as of August 2015, we've filled the windows on the south end of the symmetrical, historical enchantment that belongs in a Wes Anderson film.
And sure, it has been somewhat of an Irish funeral. The locks have been changed, our etchings and notes have been painted over and sometimes I see the lights on. People still come in and ask for coffee, look for cookies and make sure to mention how much they liked the old space better, but the new studio fits us. A vision to focus solely on art and flowers has come to life.
Now, the walls of our studio are filled with artwork and our vintage cooler is full of flowers, but redefining our identity took effort. We've slowly gained walk-in traffic, fought off maintenance problems and broken a vase or two. But now, here we are, and we invite you to come take a look.
So this Friday, October 9th at 6:00 PM, we will be hosting our official grand re*opening party featuring the work of local artists, delicious bites and familiar faces. We will raise a glass and bid farewell to our past in hopes of making way for a locally-owed, bright and busy future.
"Ladies and gentleman," the officiant began, and within seconds iPhones were out, stops were missed, vows were said and love was very clearly and unexpectedly in the air. Karla asked Dan to pick the location, and Wednesday night, he chose the L.
My Thursday afternoons are usually spent running deliveries at the flower shop inside the historical Edgewater Beach Apartments. Wednesday, my Aunt Beth texted me with a favor: would I mind photographing her friends' wedding instead?
It was around 9:45 AM on Thursday when a small group of ten boarded an empty train on the Red Line at Howard under a blue sky. Quickly looking around, ahead and behind, we jumped ship and hopped on the car behind us at the next stop to a refreshing crowd of commuters.
As we passed Loyola, Dan had found a best man and Karla was amid a fairy tale wedding she had never thought of. Vows began somewhere around Bryn Mawr, and by Argyle, after their first kiss as husband and wife, passengers and family quickly searched for a song to soundtrack the ride for their first dance.
And by Lawrence, a young woman stood up and said, "I can sing." What followed couldn't have been scripted, only felt. I quickly pushed my way through the crowd with my camera in hand.
"At last.. my love has come along," was echoing through the train, louder than the doors closing or the rails screaming. Hands were clapping and strangers were smiling all because these two crazy Chicagoans decided to get married in front of people they didn't know in a city that they loved.
We hopped off at Sheridan for a few photos, hugs and kisses. We got back on the train, heading North to Deluxe Diner, shared brunch and shortly after went on with the rest of our days as slightly different people for being a part of such a wonderful experience.
I've coordinated many weddings, photographed many couples and decorated many receptions, but I must say this was a first. And I guess that's what I find beautiful about this life and love: the ability to be surprised. And somewhere between Howard and Sheridan, two really great people promised to love and grow and found a thrill they had never known.
Here are some of my photos of the wild, perfect and spontaneous union between Karla and Dan Ivankovich. Share & enjoy.
©Stephanie Tarrant 2015
A few words from the artist.. "What inspires me is individualism. I like to see people who are who they are without being afraid of what people think of them, and are successful at what they do. I like to listen to interviews of those who inspire me and learn how they started what got them started and what got them to where they are now. I'm just inspired by people that think outside the box, and what's most fulfilling to me is being able to make things that I like and knowing that people actually like it and seeing their reaction to whatever I make for them."
I ran out of my apartment building in frantic form, hoping to catch my first solo flight to Denver. It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It was the third time I had been granted a day off since starting my first "career move" in March.
After a few Crown Royal + Coke (doubles), an older guy named Scotty had made his last clumbsy move inside the 312 Tavern across from my terminal. Down went his glass, and out we went.
And after a three-hour-delay and a second trip to McDonalds, I was seated next to another older dude named Bill. We were comin' in hot when the plane touched down in Denver. I almost missed the small glimpse of the mountains I would soon be hiking with my closest friends from college.
And after an amazing 5-day-trip inside a one bedroom apartment with four women and two dudes, I give you my fondest memories of Friendsgiving lV. Enjoy *