One Photo + One Word: Companion

Originally written for MED 130 at Missouri State Univeristy on April 21, 2016. Photo by Jenna deJong.

When I first heard of this assignment, I thought choosing a photo I had taken on one of my vacations would be best. I was lucky enough to be raised by exploratory parents who believed human beings were not meant to stay in one place all their lives. As I was looking through my photos, I decided that I wanted my family or friends to somehow contribute to the photo- to help explain what traveling meant to me.

I liked this photo, particularly because of the place and movement. This was taken at Bull ShoalsIMG_5092 Lake a couple years ago. My family has had a tradition of spending a week here for over 65 years- my brother and cousins summarize exactly what this vacation and tradition mean and why it’s so important. But there was something missing. It might be selfish, but it didn’t include me. It didn’t clarify what I was wanting to say. Were my cousins malicious? Were they being playful? Is Tommy, the poor soul pinned down, okay or does he need help? And why isn’t the photographer moving in to do something?

There were too many unpredictables and I decided to go another route.

I kept scrolling and came upon this photo. I had taken it when I went to New Orleans, LA my senior year. A few kids from my school and I went on a service trip and rebuilt homes that were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.


I took it on our very first day we arrived. We had just gotten off the bus and walked 15 minutes to a small shore by a lake. We enjoyed the cool water, the clear sky, the overlook that projected into the water. We had no idea of the sore muscles we would face later in the week, the blistering sunburns, bruised fingers from missing the nail. We were still in our bubble from back home in land-locked Missouri, where all was well and we were simply visiting a beautiful body of water — a body of water that eventually killed well over a thousand people.

But something still wasn’t right. This photo was too sad, too naive. I didn’t want my audience to look at my photo with melancholy. I wanted them to see what a good life I had, how fortunate I was. It was then that I found this photo of my brother.


The photo was originally meant to be of the majestic ski slopes. I had never seen anything so large and intimidating in my life and in a few short minutes, I would be flying down them. But it was my brother that loosened that tension. What was meant to be a joke turned out to be a reassurance. His pure excitement rubbed off one me — I was no longer counting all the bones I could break but laughed at his face and relished his fast-paced talking as he asked my father which slope first.

I realized, while looking at this photo, that he is my ultimate travel buddy. As my parents are divorced, they have taken us on separate vacations and through it all, my brother has been there. He has camped with me in the forests of the Smoky Mountains with my dad and he has walked the streets of San Diego with my mother and I.

He is my travel buddy, but most importantly, he is my companion.


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