November 1991: No More, Toronto CA

I was spending my days taking creative writing classes with a supportive teacher; art history courses with a laid-back professor; and photography classes (skipping economics classes - didn’t feel listening to the teacher make insulting comments about women was relevant to my education - for time spent in the darkroom), led by an instructor with strict printing standards. 

For one year, I was hanging out in the many parks with my custom-built pinhole and gifted Spotmatic. The exhilaration continued with one of my photographs and a multimedia illustration being selected for display in the art department, which was a big deal since space was extremely limited. 

On a warm and sunny day, off I went to my usual spot for taking nature shots - a ravine, a short walk from home. I was snapping away until the camera went silent. 

Wondering why I heard nothing from the Spotmatic when I pressed the shutter button, I pressed the button again - nothing.  Again, I pressed the button - nothing. 

Then I removed the lens to take a look inside, to get a visual of the reason for the silence.  What I saw was the mirror sitting at the bottom of the camera.  I didn’t understand why it was there since the camera had never fallen or was jostled, and was in its case when not in use. 

I looked around on the ground, amongst the fallen leaves, for any missing piece(s) but there was too much debris on the forest floor. 

Not knowing how to secure the mirror back into its correct position, everything appeared extremely close; the ravine made no sound and its light dimmed - nature knows how to soothe.  It was November 9, 1991. 

I had no idea how I got home. 

The next thing I remembered was being in a (chain) camera store, asking a staff to take a look at the Spotmatic and try to fix it.  I was bluntly told it can’t be fixed.  I asked again and was told to buy another camera. 

I had/have no interest nor hundreds of dollars to purchase another (subpar) camera.  I know the Spotmatic can be fixed, but I didn’t know where else to get it repaired.  Feeling violated, I left the store with my broken camera. 

I came home and sat frozen on the edge of the bed for hours, with the realization there was no one I know who can help me, until the catatonia shifted with a repeating thought: “how could this have happened?” 

Later, I figured if I managed to borrow the money (not sure from whom since the timely recession left us with money only for food), what would be the point; I’ll have no darkroom after graduating high school. 

If only I’d known there were rental darkroom facilities and darkroom clubs.  This was before the internet, when sharing of information was reserved for a certain few. 

Memories of the Spotmatic and darkroom vanished. 

The next 25 years were spent numbly clubbing, working, shopping and (until moving away from Toronto) helping with paying the bills.  The cameras were left behind, sitting on a closet shelf.


Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears - William Wordsworth