Alina Fresquez Patrick

Shoot the Moon, Scatter the Stars

Divorce, estrangements, death, and remarriage have caused my family to shrink, reshape, and evolve, but some version of it has returned to this same street — Land's End Road in South Carolina— each summer for ten years. My sister had her first kiss on this island, my father and my stepmother were married on the beach only steps away from the house we stayed in, and I discovered my love of art through painting lessons from my grandmother and eventually through a camera. Now, I am no longer the youngest child. I get to teach younger siblings to face the same fears of riding bikes and swimming in unfamiliar water that I faced that very first summer. This project is a love letter to the creation of a blended family and the place that gave us our foundation.

Each year, from age eleven to twenty-one, I photographed my family as I learned photography (my missteps at developing and reading a light meter are very visible in early images). My parents divorced that first year and soon my sisters became estranged from my father and stopped coming. Then, there were new step-sisters and eventually step-siblings as one of them discovered their non-binary identity. All of this I naively pointed my camera at and documented. Rather than showing baby photos and first grade yearbook images, this real-time archive showed the blending of our families as we found our footing together. Although we came to deeply love Land's End, we were all admittedly strangers to the South. Us kids were raised in the New Jersey suburbs and the parents were from the West. We came to South Carolina to visit my grandparents who spent their entire lives in New Mexico before my grandfather’s lung disease forced them to leave their home for someplace at sea level. In retrospect, it was a blessing to have neutral territory to build a new family from. We needed an unfamiliar landscape and for it to become familiar at the same pace. Giving significance to a house— even if only for a week each summer— let us rehearse and rework the choreography of family.

Even as an eleven-year-old that first summer I was attracted to the melancholy beauty and the light turning present images prematurely into memories. That thick air turned so naturally into emulsion as if holding the weight of years it knew were coming but had not yet been lived. The cul-de-sac of Land’s End, its pine trees and a dozen or so houses looked identical each summer. It was the people that changed drastically or were suddenly no longer there from one summer to the next. Now, at age twenty-four I see these images for what they are — shots of our family as we made it in real time. I will forever be grateful to these people and this place that taught me how to build a home from the ground up and keep choosing it year after year. 

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