I was not always a photographer. No, at one time I was a potter. But that was years ago, when I lived in New York, back when everything made sense.

My boyfriend, Sam and I had just moved in together. My ceramic works were actually making me a reasonable amount of money at that time, and we were able to move into this amazing flat in the East Village. The place was a bit of a mess when we got there, but together we made it into our dream home, much like I had been molding clay into the shapes and forms that inspired me. Back in those days I thought that I had actually “made it”, that I had fully found my place in the world.

Sadly, we lived this idyllic existence for only a brief time. To make a long story short, Sam is no longer with us, and I haven’t been able to throw a pot or sculpt in any way since. But while that part of my life is long gone, one night Sam and I had together stays with me in perfect clarity to this day. And this is the story I’d like to share with you.

I remember that that night Sam and I had some small argument. It was one of those spats that doesn’t even matter, but we had it just because we were tired and cranky and needed to let off steam. Sam drifted off before it could be resolved and I found myself frustrated and unable to fall asleep. I decided I might as well get some work done, so I went into the studio and sat in front of my pottery wheel.

I put on a Righteous Brothers record, the one that has Unchained Melody on it. I walked to where I kept my materials, letting the music run through me, releasing the tension of the day. I slowly unwrapped the smooth brown clay and slipped the cutting wire around a nice big chunk. The wire slid through effortlessly. I threw the clay down on my table, again and again, releasing air trapped inside, not caring if I woke Sam. I then slowly shaped the clay into a ball and slammed it onto the center of the wheel.

As the wheel sped up the clay became a swirling mass of earthen tones. I wet my hands with slip and slowly started to shape a bowl. The clay took form quickly under my touch. I carefully elongated the sides and pressed my thumbs into the center to form a hole. As I widened the hole the bowl became a vase. Its center became so deep that I had to reach my entire arm inside to thin out the edges. As I did this I heard the floorboards creak and felt Sam sit on the stool behind me.

Without saying a word he dipped his hands in the slip and joined me. He put his hands on mine and worked them up and down the vase, wet clay oozing through our entwined fingers. Under our combined pressure the vase soon collapsed, but we barely noticed.

Sam lifted me off the ground, and I wrapped my legs around his waist as he carried me into the other room. As he pressed his lips to mine everything drifted away. Our fight, the vase, the way he could never actually say “I love you”, none of it mattered but that moment. We made love on the floor that night, never guessing that fate would soon tear us apart.

So Sam, the work I make now is for you. Oh my love, my darling.

Only time can do so much.