Behind the Lens

Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

My favorite place in the world is behind the lens of a camera. When I was fourteen, I saved every penny I made babysitting and washing dishes for a Canon t2i, and the satisfaction that came with the overpowering smell of lens cleaner and the ability to capture any moment at the click of a button was well worth it. I took my new camera everywhere: to the opposite side of the world, to school events, and to the top of the very first mountain I summited. My camera was a security blanket; I felt comfortable with it constantly in front of my face or around my neck. I suddenly wanted to be everywhere at once, in the middle of the action. And then my aunt was diagnosed with cancer.

The news hit with the same impact of swallowing too fast: my throat closed up while my stomach jumped to it, and my body shook as if trying to spit back the words. I was terrified to know that someone who meant the world to me was dying, and I knew that I couldn’t face it without some type of armor. I took my camera with me on the plane, quickly clicking it on and off to occupy my shaking hands; I hadn’t eaten for two days, certain that my stomach wasn’t as strong as I was trying to be. When I arrived, before I could even knock on the door, my aunt opened...

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