Portrait of Rebeka Singer — March 24th
Rebeka Singer and I went to graduate school together. I wouldn’t consider us “friends” in school but we had the same classes — always polite to one another. Rebeka was always nice enough to show up to my reading events and, at one of them, I had a little photo show. That night, she asked if I would photograph her sometime.
Six months later, I found myself driving to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to meet Rebeka at her new loft apartment. Friends asked me, “why are you driving all the way out to Rhode Island? Do you know this person well?”
“No,” I said. “But I have to photograph her. I really, really want to.”
There is a wild fragility about Rebeka that is impossible to describe without meeting her. There is an impossibly rough attitude about her in some moments. In others, she is, perhaps, the most tender, sensitive, and kind individual I have ever met. When I arrived at her apartment, she had spent the morning making a beautiful spread of food. A feast, actually.
We caught up a bit (our boyfriends sat at the table, talking books). “I’m an easy target,” she said, pretty much out of nowhere. “So thank you for never being cruel to me.” Really, I was just happy to be there.
The boys left for a walk and Rebeka and I got to work. I told her to keep talking as I shot, because she said talking comforted her when she was nervous. We laughed for half the time. She cried in other moments. I wanted to hold this person and be this person’s friend. I wanted to start from the beginning and hear about her entire life. I realized, after two years of knowing Rebeka, this was the first real conversation we had ever had.
It’s amazing how much people share with you when you’re willing to listen.