We used to string the phone cord from the kitchen into her bedroom. Then we’d huddle over the receiver together, calling boys. And by “calling boys”, I mean we’d dial their numbers, hang up on them, giggle hysterically, and repeat 50 times. I’m pretty sure we were the sole reasons why they invented caller ID. After we graduated high school, we went to Waikiki together. Four of us by ourselves, we switched planes, flagged down cabs, and learned important life lessons like Strawberry Hill only tastes like fruit punch. Oops.

The next summer, we moved back to Hawaii. It was as simple as impulsively faxing over an application one late night. The next thing we knew we were living in Aloha Towers. We had jobs and a refrigerator. We learned to use bus routes, and found the grocery store. For the first time, everything was up to us. 

After the summer, we went our separate ways. There was college and road trips, relationships, jobs, marriage. The busy-ness of life allowed for paths to cross only occasionally. Then one day she emailed and asked if I’d consider flying out to photograph her family. She was now living in San Francisco with her husband and little boy. They’d been married for years, but I’d never met either of them. So, of course I agreed.

It felt like a full circle, opening the door to her apartment. Certain things hadn’t changed. She still had too many shoes. We still laughed like teenagers. And she still knew all the best places to find everything, whether it be coffee, a pedicure, a baby sling. But what I loved most was the depth of understanding that happens when two friends grow up, then apart, then back together. Suddenly there are more layers to a story you’d put down years ago.

So here was my friend, living in her new chapter. One that felt familiar, yet completely new in context. I’d never seen her so content. And as we walked to the car after her shoot, I told her that I was so happy for the way things had turned out for her. She looked at me and said that everything else was just getting ready for this. And that made me think about life in general. The messy, scary, reckless, parts mix up with the thrilling, beautiful, intimate pieces. They’re non-discriminating as they combine, yet they have a common goal. Everything is getting you ready for This. The only place where Life can exist, Right Now.

What does Right Now look like for you?


  1. Kathleen O. says

    My "now" is full of fresh air, puddles, and all the happiness and discovery that comes with a three-year-old being at the center of your life. It’s the wise person who can realize that their life’s travails and sorrows and joys were preparing them for the exact life they are living. Thanks for pointing it out!

  2. says

    this is a meaningful post for me today. I just read a daily email from "College Knowledge" entitled "Rediscover your place in your family" – it talked of the new relationship children and parents begin to develop after the child goes away to college – a transition in the child/adult relationship – becoming an adult friend to your parents. SO i was thinking, this morning before seeing this post, how different it will be when she comes home. I hope to have something soon to post of our "right now" – the new chapter of our lives.

    thank you for posting this blog . what a beautiful, intimate portrait of this family.

  3. olivia dutko says

    This seriously brought tears to my eyes!
    I mean REAL tears!
    What a post! It really "hit home" for me.
    You have such a way with words. You should write a book…I KNOW you have time.
    "Right Now" for me is VERY much like yours….I have many "sisters"
    that I have not met their babies & husbands….I am going to change that!

    Thank you for your insightfulness!

    PS I thought me & my girlfriends were the reason caller id was invented:)

  4. says

    What a wonderful photo and a wonderful post! My college roomies and I still keep in touch, although we don’t get to see each other often. Last summer, I actually got to see my best friend from college twice in a matter of months! So good to connect again and it was like time had never passed. Amazing that seeing friends from my youth could instantly transport me back to feeling young again. Good medicine!

    Here’s my right now:

  5. Judith Silver says

    Maile, So good to hear your voice, and what a message of love and wisdom. I love the picture. You captured the moment. Love, Judy

  6. nicky thomas says

    Good evening Shuttersisters

    I’ve been having a hard time of it recently, what with people dying, arguments, depression (whoda thunk it!) etc. A few days ago my baby had a really bad fall and ended up with a HUGE bruise on her head. She still has a mark on her cheek from where her grandma left the iron out and she leaned into it (i know, lets not even go there!).

    This morning she fell and grazed her chin and i could have just cried. My gorgeous girl, youngest of three, my baby, looking like an NSPCC advert. We got home and i cleaned her up with tears in my eyes. She looked at me long and hard and said ‘big hug’ and did just that. Sometimes it takes the worst of times to make you appreciate the best of times, even if they only last a moment – they are more powerful than a day of frustration!

    Here she is, in all her bruised glory

    please dont send the social services round!

    Have a peaceful day shuttersisters

    Nicky x

  7. says

    This was a lovely post. Thank you for sharing the story of you and your friend. She has a beautiful family.

    I have two friends that I have reconnected with, so I understand exactly what you are saying.

    Take care!

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