8.16.2012

Portobello Road


Christina sent us this story, "written about her day in Portobello Road but from a narrator's persepctive." Your sweet sorta-kinda love stories are some of my favourite guest pieces here, and this is no exception. It's the loveliest thing. You can read Christina's blog here.  


On a quiet Monday afternoon, stubborn rain drops kept the puddles on Portobello Road full. Colorful houses and vintage boutiques lined the unusually quiet street, but two foreigners walked past at a brisk pace. The only thing on their minds was portraits. Of strangers. Daunting? Yes. Impossible? No. She was an American, he a Canadian. Both lovers of photography, olive green Toms, and music. At this point, they had been acquaintances for 48 hours, friends for 47. Both students, both on assignment, and both pushed so far beyond their comfort zone. The similarities were endless, but this is not a fairytale. 
A happy, nervous chatter ensued as the pair made their way to the heart of Portobello. Neither of the two knew how to ask a stranger for a portrait, but they had to come back with at least two tries. It could be an adventure or a failure. He walked fast, her wide eyes kept her trailing. You waited, she said as she caught up to him, paused on the cobblestone street.Let’s walk together, he said. Her heart felt full, and the day was just beginning.
The first attempts failed. His fascination with watches led them into a vintage clock shop. The owners thanked him for his compliments, but wouldn’t allow pictures in their shop. She led them into a clothing store whose windows were lined with sewing machines. A small boy innocently spun their knobs and levers, but his mother spoke no English. They both took many deep breaths. Frustration kept them quiet and glossy-eyed. Against a whitewashed wall, they took portraits of each other. He admired her green eyes and his half smile made her smile. But this is not a fairytale.
Let’s ask him, he said, nodding at a friendly-eyed man outside his store.  His accent was thick, but his face told a story. The man took us into his store, the lighting fine for shopping, but not photographs. The pair snapped away, still frustrated, now about the lighting. The man moved under a seemingly heaven-sent light, and that was it. That portrait was the money shot. The girl smiled and took his email address. Thank you so much, she spoke quietly in her American accent. I’ll send you the best ones, she promised, and the pair was off again.  Their confidence was building and the rain had let up. She made fun of his accent and he laughed his breathy laugh. The next girl the photographed was an aspiring DJ originally from Sweden. She wore a rock as an earring and alligator print shoes. She secretly enjoyed everything about having her portrait taken. A success. The day went on, the rain came and went, and the pair took photos of everything. Bad weather made for good photos as they walked up and down the now busier street. He needed one more portrait, and stopped at a fruit stand, complete with eccentric owner. The lighting was bad, but the try was success enough. The rain had been beginning to pick up, but as soon as he finished with the fruit seller, the skies sobbed fat tears. Neither he nor she panicked, despite the camera equipment and already damp clothes. Let’s get coffee, he suggested, although this is not a fairytale.

The coffeeshop was quiet and they settled into leather armchairs. For a Canadian, he knew a lot about U.S. History. She discussed her favorite president at his prompting and how dying in office isn’t valiant. She was content, and he seemed so too. Looking back on it, she fell a little bit in that coffeeshop as the rain came down. She fell for the brown haired foreign boy with the half smile. Despite the distance that would separate them once they arrived home, she fell for the boy with the contagious half smile. For twelve days, they were adventurers together. I couldn’t have asked strangers for their portrait if you hadn’t been there,he admitted that same night over Thai food. He was a gentleman, and so she fell. For twelve days in a row, they joked, smiled, laughed, and complimented. And then, because this is not a fairytale, they went their separate ways. The pictures bring her straight back to Portobello Road in the rain.

15 comments:

  1. This is an enchanting and mystical story, and as I read it I feel like I am truly in the heart of a foreign country, standing between the street vendors and the fruit sellers. I lovelovelove it.

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  2. Ohhh I love this. It's kind of magical.

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  3. this is enchanting. one of those things you can't exactly stop reading. one day, i think i'd like to have something like this happen to me. and if it does, i'll be sure to tell you about it :)

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  4. This is beautiful! How enchanting and yet so real.

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  5. ooh, this reminds me of a summer i had. absolutely loved this!
    We, too, went our seperate ways, because it wasn't a fairytale

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  6. I cried. Absolutely beautiful.
    xo

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  7. This gave me thrills over and over. I'm still shaking - the beauty of it moved me so deeply! And the slightly sad but lovely ending was the icing on the cake. Bravo, Christina! Bravo!

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  8. great job Christina! This story was very simple, yet small things were made bigger and more noticeable throughout the entire journey. It was very real. Not a happy ever after but life-must-move-on-but-i-still-have-the-memories real. Thanks. :)

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  9. Oohhh. ^_^ This is breathtaking. I shan't cry because... well, I just shan't and we'll leave it at that. ;) But this story is now among my favorites. Ever. Thank you.

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  10. I love the simplicity and sweetness of the story. Good job!
    Lark

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  11. this is very sweet/ i would love to take portraits of strangers someday. i am inspired!

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  12. wow this is absolutely amazing. You put so much feeling in the words I could see it all happening. I would love to try and take portraits of people but I think I'd chicken out without someone.
    Tessa Brooke

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