Dear Padua #1
Beginnings (2007 - 2009)
I recently received an email that was meant for another Alina Trifan. A university contacted Alina about her paper, "Understanding Depression from Psycholinguistic Patterns in Social Media Texts". I read it and I can’t rule out the possibility that she is me analyzing my old Tumblr blog from the future.
I was in a depression for most of my teenage years and young adulthood. I wouldn't say I am depressed-depressed now, which is funny because I only started therapy last year. I have other stuff going on. To understand it, I have to talk through past stories with my therapist.
My memory often fails me, and the fact that I speak four languages doesn’t make me more eloquent. One day I realized I had all my years of depression in photos. It began at the same time I picked up a camera, which was also when I moved to Padua in Italy. Talk about stars aligning.
I told my therapist that while looking through my old photos I was able to recall how I felt at the time. She encouraged me to keep going and sit with my emotions. Now I’m writing a newsletter about it, essentially making you sit through my homework.
The title Dear Padua is not new to me. I called my photos of Padua this way. But Dear Padua is also my story of growing up in a new country and becoming a different person. I often think of myself as having lived two lives.
I promise not to dwell too much on the sad bits and focus on my photography, which was very, very, very bad until it slowly got better. I believe the cool kids call this a genesis piece.
The year was 2007. My family and I left Moldova on its Independence Day. I was excited to see the clouds from the airplane window. I was excited about seeing Italy, too. In my mind, it was this exotic place where nothing could go wrong.
I always knew I would be moving to Italy eventually. Not that I had a say in it, I just knew. My dad had been trying to get us there with him for years. He left to work in Italy when I was around six.
Now I was about to turn fifteen in a different country where I had no friends and didn’t speak the language. I could swear I received my first camera that year. My archive says otherwise. So I either deleted my photos from 2007 - 2008 (a real possibility), or I got my camera in 2009 and my life is a lie.
Either way, it was a grey point-and-shoot Canon IXUS 80IS that fit inside the palm of my hand. I think my parents got it for me so I would be taking photos of our family trips, but it ended up being my best friend. I carried it with me everywhere. You don’t need to speak to take a photo. It made me feel both powerful and invisible.
Things started out fine. My family went through a honeymoon phase, visiting places and just getting drunk on Italy’s beauty and food. We were also learning how to be an actual family for the first time ever! As for me, I still had some time before real-life kicked in with the ringing of a school bell.
You got the gist. Honeymoons end. I don’t know what’s coming next time, but it will be true.
Leaving you with this quote from The Office, that I just finished re-watching a few days ago:
It'd be great if people saw this documentary and learned from my mistakes. Not that I'm a tragic person. I'm really happy now. But... it would just... just make my heart soar if someone out there saw this and she said to herself "be strong, trust yourself, love yourself. Conquer your fears. Just go after what you want and act fast, because life just isn't that long."
There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that kind of the point?
Out of all fictional characters, I relate with Pam the most.
Love you Pam. Pamalama-ding-dong.
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