I met Leviel and his mother Arnalyz on a cold, rainy day in front of the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett. The museum is four floors of perfection. From a xylophone the size of a wall, to a tree house filled with picture books and an entire indoor mini golf course – it’s a dream world of play.
Despite the early hour, we explored giddily, running loudly from room to room because we were at the Museum during one of the regular sensory relief mornings that they offer. Only a few kids with their families and a few staff were with us. The space was bright and clean but not crowded and not overwhelming. I dream of the time when all shared community spaces have these kinds of relief hours available for those of us who can’t cope with crowds or noise.
The museum is just across from their apartment so Leviel and his mother knew it well. But Leviel didn’t know me at all. That’s OK. I’m good at making friends and Leviel is too. We played with scarfs and the air machine and ran around and made music and smiled at each other over and over and over again. Finally we took a snack break in the cafeteria.
Leviel’s mother fed him crackers and worked with him on his first sign, the sign for MORE. They were beautiful together. Working in tandem; understanding each others thoughts and feelings. They were kind to each other in all the little ways that humans can be – in touch and gaze and affection.
Can y'all believe how BRAVE Leviel is being here?! It's his FIRST TIME to walk up and down stairs without holding a hand!! I cheered so loudly and it was such a big deal that we decided we were all done at the Museum and headed back to their apartment for some r&r in a more familiar place. We talked about their crew of providers – the good and the not so good. Leviel finally started crawling all over me so I knew that I was IN! Leviel’s mom provided him with the deep pressure that he craves and showed me some of their favorite games. I was so touched by their bravery, their connection. They had moved all the way from Puerto Rico to access the services available to Leviel in Seattle and yet they were bright eyed and boundless in their affection for each other and their hospitality of me.
I left feeling honored. What glorious work this is that I am invited into peoples lives to see and to reflect back the tremendous beauty found there.
Our culture loves pictures of happy white families in mansions. I've said it before and I'll say it again, to invite a photographer in to your ordinary life as a person of color or a neurodifferent person is PURE COURAGE. To say come see us - in our joy and our sorrows is so brave. i feel like I'm on sacred ground when I photograph a family that wants thier sorrow and thier joy remembered.
If you would like me to come into your life, to show you the beauty in your everyday – click on the contact button and lets talk about scheduling your photo session today.