I am indebted to many of my past teachers and professors, but there are those who leave a more lasting impression than others. My Latin teacher, for instance, was one of the most influential teachers I had in high school, and she prepared me so well that my Latin major at Wake Forest was all but a foregone conclusion. We all use Latin daily, whether we are aware of it or not. Us Latin geeks are more tuned in to the derivatives, and we make conscious decisions to use Latinate words wherever possible (in lieu of that vulgar German stock).
As a lawyer, I am a writer first and foremost. It is my craft. As a photographer, too, I view the world differently than most attorneys. Indeed, I perceive the world aesthetically through an artistic lens, whether or not I am behind my camera. This appreciation for art is due in large part to my AP Art History teacher. When I was 20, I saw my first cathedral outside of my art history books. It was on a trip with my wife and her family to Europe. We stopped for a day in Mallorca, and I made a pilgrimage to La Seu (Palma Cathedral).
I stood before the great vaulted entrance for a terribly long time, for the first time in my life appreciating the magnitude of what Judy taught me. I took in the carvings and the arches, and then once inside, I looked with a child-like wonder at the rose window. I walked down the central aisle in the nave (knowing, of course, what this part of the cathedral was called), and for the first time it struck me that although I had memorized the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, I had never known what it felt like to physically stand under Michelangelo’s handiwork. I couldn’t tell you how the chapel smelled, or what sensation I had when I first walked inside. But now, standing in the dimly lit chapels of La Seu, I knew what it was to be inside a gothic cathedral.
Last summer, I visited Anna’s family in England. Her cousin/godmother lives in York, and we went for a short day trip to visit Alice. Alice had inherited a tortoise from the previous owner of her home, and he was nearly one hundred years old. Kemper still asks about the tortoise, and this will be his memory of York (for now). For me, however, I will remember York through the photographs I took of York Minster, the grand cathedral of York. I will remember it, because I understood it. I will remember York Minster, not just because of its august presence, but because I was taught to appreciate the buttresses and the vaulted ceilings by an uncommonly wonderful teacher.
In many ways, I think I missed my calling. I am always mildly jealous of my best friend (Nora’s godfather) who is a professor in North Carolina. I was helping proof a paper for which he allowed me to contribute some research, and I was overcome with a modest pang of regret (made all the more acute when I had to turn back to the Response to Petitioner’s Motion to Dismiss that I should have been working on instead of immersing myself in the effect of language policy on the colonialization and Americanization of Puerto Rico at the turn of the 20th Century). But I am happy where I am in life. I have a job I enjoy at a firm I adore, and I will always have my photography and my writing. I owe all of these things to my teachers and professors, especially those select few whose lessons continue to teach me to this very day.
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