Today is the second day of Ramadan. I know this because my best friend is fasting, and only through her because my own connection to Ramadan is a murky ancestry of Islam that presents itself only via second hand stories and thrice removed cousins and a last name that sometimes raises eyebrows at the immigration counter.
I went to a nice restaurant by myself for dinner tonight- for a dinner of warm, creamy fiddlehead ferns, charred fingerling potatoes and marmite rubbed baby back ribs that I probably couldn’t afford but bought anyway. Because in those few moments of soft music, and dark emptying restaurant, and gently curious waitress- I felt so comfortable, and happy, and that money that I shouldn’t have spent felt so fucking well spent that I couldn't help but smile stupidly to myself.
I watch the waitress watching me and realize that in my newly acquired status as a waitress, I have come to observe waitresses with a new keenness. I watch them more closely for signs of fatigue, for waitress behaviors that I can recognize and empathize with. I catch sight of a plastic container filled with water and a straw stashed behind the cash register and wish the waitress would catch my eye so we could share the secret handshake of our secret waitress club and I could make it known that ‘wink, wink, I too have a plastic container of iced water and a straw stashed behind my cash register’. It seems silly to have spent the day serving overpriced food to people and playing the part of hostess and caregiver only to be here, at the end of the same night, at the other end of the very same performance. She doesn’t look my way and the moment is lost. My secret handshake will have to wait
I know that she is wondering what this girl in Timbs and frayed dress and wide, naïve eyes that perfectly match her own is doing at 10pm, sitting in front of a salad of well dressed fiddlehead ferns. I feel her gaze on me- working its way from my boots to my hipster film camera to my bulky man wallet to my mess of hair and come back drawing all sorts of blanks. I contemplate lying to her- giving her a reason for my presence and my appetite. It occurs to me that Ramadan would be the perfect lie- an extravagant, lush meal to celebrate a day of fasting in the name of faith. It would give me an authenticity that she currently doubts I have, it’ll legitimize me and de-hipsterify me in her eyes, I'm sure.
I nearly blurt my lie out.
Then, I think of Sals, my fasting best friend, and of watching hundreds of people break their fast outside the mosque in Ahmedabad last July. I remember the celebration of it, the buzz that took over the street before the fast was broken, the flickering lightbulbs and handcarts stacked with dates- the sacredness that I felt so honored to witness, that I wished I could participate in, that I felt so disconnected from. The lie didn’t seem worth it. The lie to potentially give myself fake authenticity in the eyes of a stranger seemed like too much of a lie.
I finished my fiddleheads ferns, and walked home thinking of Sals, and faith and why I placed so much importance on that plate of fiddlehead ferns.
Below are a few of my favorite scans from my very first roll of color film (Kodak Portra 400). The plan is to shoot in film all summer and I can hardly wait for the all magic and developing and beautiful colors to come! #kodakportraforevah