Preface to Hemifrån, a Photobook by Johanna Torell
Published by Permanent Sleep, January 2013
Even the littlest things could do it. A particular smell or taste, an old song, a certain place, or color perhaps. Like tiny needles, they pricked through the periphery of our psyche, pushing through to pierce the conscience with a flood of feelings and emotions it couldn’t begin to make sense of.
They whispered of a time and place we could hardly remember. A day when we’d been young and free and the world hadn’t felt so heavy. Long afternoons we’d spent dreaming, our selves stretching out to pulse against the bounds of eternity. The possibilities were endless then, our futures had yet to be written and the people we’d become were no more concrete than our own fleeting fantasies.
The years had a way about them, and even the more upsetting memories had been left dusted in a golden hue. We looked back on the hardest times with an air of serenity; heartbreak and melancholy gradually remade into romanticized versions of their former selves. The pain melting away as we yearned for the careless days of youth when there were still mistakes to be made and time had yet to begin to wear down upon our fragile bodies.
Shallow and incomplete, we spent our days searching for that part of the self that had been lost somewhere along the way. The people we’d been and the ones we’d wanted to be. The ghosts were of our own making. The relationships that had never materialized, the risks we’d always been too afraid to take. Consumed by nostalgia, we felt a sharp, stinging regret for the years wasted, a dreadful longing for the could have been, something so vague and intangible, the strange tense of reality we felt so fiercely yet could never attain.
The search was the only thing that kept us going through it all. It felt absurd, pointless perhaps, but what else was there to do? And so we bought bus tickets and slept on couches, our hair greasy and pocketbooks thin. Lost and confused, we stumbled our way through faraway places. We fell in love, but were never really sure, running ever faster and falling again, wondering all along just who we were and where we were headed.
But then that was it, wasn’t it? We’d already found just what we’d been looking for even as we’d begun to open our eyes. It didn’t make sense to us yet, it couldn’t. It’d be years before we’d even begin to understand, each smile, heartbreak, and lonely night transformed. We’d look back in longing, remembering a time when we’d seen the world and done the things we’d wanted to, when we’d been there in the moment, living, breathing, feeling; knowing that we’d probably never feel whole, but that it hadn’t really mattered anyway.