She was standing in the window of the Greyhound Bus Station on a drizzly fall day in Oshkosh, gazing out into the gray sky, off to somewhere besides the beat down town we were both in that day.
I was new to photography, taking classes at the UW, avoiding the real world by diving into college after deciding that getting an upholstery degree and working in a garage in a small backyard somewhere in northern Wisconsin was a kind of boring hell I could live without.
I had just gotten into photography, had a beat up Nikon and a wide angle lens I fell in love with.
I was messing around with sneaky camera angles, not looking through the lens and stealing photographic moments when I grabbed this shot.
I loved her braids, the fur collar coat and the way she showed in the parts of the window in the shadow of the building across the street.
About a year later, I flamed out of UW-Oshkosh, a lousy student who cared more about doing art than taking classes I never wanted to be in.
I moved back to my hometown, got a job working on my dad's logging crew running a chainsaw all winter long, or driving a log skidder in subzero weather, working running a riding stable at the summer camp I grew up at.
But I never stopped taking photos, and wound up back in Oshkosh a few years later, drawn back by a sort of twisted relationship with a woman who was too much like my father, and because my dad quit working and died that same year.
I got a job working for one of my teachers at his commercial photo studio and stayed there for another ten years, through even more messed up relationships until I got told to leave by everyone from my ex sweetie to my boss.
I pretty much gave up photography until a few years ago, settling for snapshots on vacation. The way things came apart were ugly, and for a long time I avoided it, because it stirred up too many bad feelings about how things went so wrong back in Oshkosh.
That bus station's gone, and I never did learn who that woman was.
But I am glad I took that photograph, it really captures a moment, and while I was in it, I was young and full of ideas, and as my old man would say, piss and vinegar.
Oddly enough, I spend most of my time working in the backyard in a small garage these days. But I'm building guitars and not recovering ugly ass couches from the 70's with naugahide for cranky old retired republican church ladies, and the shop garage I have now is in a community far more engaged and alive than my home town up north ever was.