I was shooting video at a high school basketball game the other night, when I heard a squeal from the stands and someone calling my name. I glanced over in the general direction and thought, "Nah, that can't mean me" before sliding my gaze back to the action on the court.
That's when I got hit- with a whoosh of hair gel and a swish of long hair, lip gloss and gum- with a hug. One of the maids of honor from the wedding where I had cross my personal boundaries of gruffness to get the family portraits finished last July was practically dancing in front of me, all high school excitement and popular girl glee.
"The photos turned out so good! You are so awesome!" she said, bouncing in her Uggs. I grin and I know, despite how I agonized over it last summer, that the images I shot had the desired effect and the effort, no matter how intense, was worth it. She has fallen under the spell of her big sister's wedding photos, and the two hours spent posing at the church and moving to the riverfront and posing some more and going out on the golf course and then- wait! I'm sorry, what? really? Okay, wedding party, more on the veranda, please!- now feels totally worth it to this 15-year-old who chatters on about her PSATs and Christmas break and her sister's arrival date from the other side of the country for the holidays.
"You are so welcome, sweetie," I say sincerely, and I hug her right back.
As I haul my gear out of the gymnasium doors three periods later, I do a little victory dance in the parking lot, a Rocky style fist pump as well as one can when encumbered with a tripod AND a monopod. Five months later, I'm officially redeemed, validated, and so appreciative of this teenage girl whose thanks- expressed in her own authentic way- means more to me than she knows. The gratitude? Is all mine this time.