“When you spell my name, if it looks misspelled then you’ve spelled it correctly.”
My name is pronounced like it would be if it were spelled “Adrienne” but it is not spelled that way, and I can’t get to the bottom of why not. The story changes throughout the years, and as a good storyteller will tell you, “that’s OK, stories often change to fit the audience.”
So, it could have been the nurse, or how the woman of whom I am a namesake spelled her name, or my 18-year old mother wasn’t quite sure how to spell it. Nevertheless, it turns out to be a great metaphor for About Me.
Adrainne, in Latin means: Dark and rich, derived from the Adriatic Sea possibly because of its rich, dark sand beaches.
Then this dark one married a lighter hued one and took on his last name, Gray.
All these metaphors whirl around my life constantly reminding me of who I am and how I must interpret the world. My ideas often land in a place that is informed by my complicated world living as a black woman, who likes to sit in the dark occasionally, who has grey emotional bouts at times, yet proudly proclaims the richness of those very complexities. There was a time when I rejected the darkness, denied that I was rich and demanded a “this or that” identity, but life has taught me that I can laugh in the graytones… a world between dark and light, black and white, a world of subtleties and complexities.
In my posts, most of my thoughts and writings, I find myself searching for these liminal spaces, places where we are uncomfortable and rush back inward or outward. I like to look and see where stories intertwine, find commonality and where they contrast. I believe that the greater narrative of society and of our communities, bear these same components of familiar chapters, and unrealized deviants. It is the repressed untold stories, the unrealized stories and the hidden collection of short stories that force a community or a group of people to identify with one story – the one that is most frequently heard, be it positive or negative.
This is where I linger in The Gray Tones.
“Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” ~Chimamanda Adichie, author
Ben Gray has been an award-winning, full-time photojournalist for nearly a quarter century and a race-winning ultra-distance runner for the past five years. #Runography is his personal project of combining his two passions to inspire, entertain and share his explorations. He is currently based in Jerusalem.
Photojournalism: Ben and his wife Adrainne are the communications coordinators at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, where Ben focuses on photos and videos of the schools, projects and churches of the ELCJHL. Prior to that, Ben was a photojournalist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 18 years, including four years running the photo department as the Visual Manager. He served on the board of directors of The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, the longest continuously operating photojournalism seminar in the United States, for eight years.
Running: Ben began running at the age of 39 and ran his first race shortly after turning 40. In the four years since, he has raced seven marathons and 20 ultramarathons, including two 100-mile races. He generally finishes in the top 10% and has scored several first- and second-place overall finishes.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by thegraytones.com, runographer.com and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the ELCA, ELCJHL or any organization, thereof.