Powell Butte, Oregon

Visiting my Aunt Lisa in central oregon were highlights in my childhood. I loved how wild it was, how free I felt. I came alive riding her four wheeler into wide open spaces, listening to country music and trying on a completely different lifestyle. My life in the suburbs was a good one, but it never felt real enough, and in these visits I would breathe in the air extra deep and try to savor something that was often missing back at home.

I also just felt so good being around my Aunt Lisa. I have a deep respect and admiration for her and how she’s chosen to live. The person that she is. There is a grounded-ness in her that I long for and crave, and being around her gives me a little bit of this, or at the very least, inspires it. One of my favorite parts about going to visit her was seeing my mom in this setting. I loved how they would bicker about the most trivial things and then laugh so hard they cried or peed or snorted or resorted to absolute silence, because something somebody said was just that clever, and just that funny. I like watching them together. Complete opposites, but sisters with shared childhood that I will never know and understand.

The best part about all these feelings and memories I have for her and with her, is that now my own daughters do too. And I can see it in the way their bodies moves and faces express themselves, they feel good out here too. They adore their Aunt Lisa the same way I do! Her sugar cookies, lasagna, and homemade ice cream will be pillars in their childhood too. They will remember riding four wheelers, feeding horses, eating too many sugar cookies, playing skip bo (and never winning if their nana is there). They will remember the incredible view of the mountains from their porch, watching Princess Bride, sleeping in their RV and a handful of things that I’m not even aware of but will hopefully get to hear all about one day as they unravel their childhood.

One of my favorite things about being a mother is creating a childhood that I always dreamed of. Taking what I loved about my own, changing what didn’t resonate and paying attention to these incredible souls that chose me to raise them, and listening to what they need to thrive, wrapping it magic and documenting it, like I’m a fly on the wall, or right there next to them. I don’t know how it will feel for them years from now. But the most beautiful thing about my photographs is that it will forever be an invitation into my eyes, what I saw and felt watching them experience this great big world. Just like I did, but so very different, and so incredibly good.