Monday, August 23, 2010


I was supposed to take this picture a really long time ago:

jfg loft building

When I first moved here, the JFG Coffee building was totally vacant. There wasn't even glass in the windows. The painting on the side, which is so vivid there, was faded and a little peeling, and the sign on top, while intact, had seen better days. A couple of years ago I was walking around downtown and I tried to get a picture of the sign, but couldn't get the right angle from street level on Jackson:

jfg coffee

I didn't realize at the time that the perfect angle is available if you stand on the Gay Street viaduct, because I hadn't explored enough in that direction to know that the viaduct existed. I was still a little uncertain about that end of town, but Bryan lived down that way, and informed me that I could take a picture of the whole sign from the viaduct. I started down that way once, but was asked for change by homeless people on both sides of the 100 block of Gay Street and ended up turning back before reaching the viaduct or taking the picture.

Bryan offered to walk down there with me someday so that I could get my good picture, but somehow we never got around to it. He never let me forget that, though, and every few weeks he would randomly throw a sentence or two into some email that had nothing to do with it:

"I'll send those forms up in runner mail, and hey, when are you walking down to Gay Street to take that picture of the JFG sign?"

Once he even took a picture of the sign himself on his way in from work and posted it on his facebook to taunt me. Still, I never got around to taking the picture because the building wasn't going anywhere, the sign wasn't going anywhere, and I thought we weren't either. There always seemed to be more time, and then suddenly Bryan is gone and there is no more time, but the sign is still there and this weekend we didn't have to work. Every time I tried to think of a place to go take pictures this weekend my immediate thought was, "Yeah, but you can't call Bryan and see if he wants to go," and then I didn't want to go any more. It's odd, because when Bryan was still here there were lots of times that I never gave it a thought and just got up on Saturday and went somewhere by myself, but this weekend it just seemed horrible that I would have to.

You always want what you can't have.

So the weekend came and almost went. On Sunday afternoon I went to go see a movie with some friends at the Tennessee Theatre on Gay Street, and after the movie was over and everyone was splitting off their separate ways I realized that I was alone, it was a beautiful sunny day, I missed Bryan, and I'd never walked to the viaduct to take that picture, so I just did it. No pause, no thought, off I went, and there was the angle and the photo and the sign and all of a sudden it was like my photography block was broken. There was something to take a picture of every few feet, and plain old buildings that I see every time I go downtown looked different and dramatic:

sterchi lofts and commerce building

I found the stairs to the underside of Gay Street where it was raised in the early 1900's and saw the understructure beneath it and Jackson Avenue:

under jackson avenue

Even places that I had seen before looked interesting and new:

patrick sullivan's saloon

south central street


building on state street

Bryan thought taking that picture would make me happy, and he was right. It did. I stood on the viaduct and I remembered all the emails and that facebook posting and the times he would just casually drop it into conversation over a meal or when we were doing something else, and I felt better. I remembered Bryan, and I felt ok. I think Bryan would be ok with it, too.

I'm going to go somewhere this weekend, and I'm going to take some pictures.


Anonymous said...

I can't really describe how big a smile this post made on my face.


Jeannie said...

Joel, you make me happy. Not a day goes by that I don't think of Bryan and things we meant to do, and I am glad you took your picture. It is beautiful, just like Bryan said it would be!