Since last November I started thinking about this series. I knew I had to take the idea of capturing water to a whole other level. From going to just pouring a pitcher of water on a models head to trying to control the tides and currents of the ocean. I knew this was going to be a big leap but for some reason I felt ready. It's almost as if the ocean was calling me for reason bigger than me. But I want to share a bit from the beginning. I want you all to know where I am coming from.
Freshman Year of college I Zachary Olewnicki was raped and I told no-one. And when I mean no-one I literally mean not a single soul. I remember telling my closest friends at school that this guy I used to talk to in high school was still on my mind. I told them that I was upset and partying a lot because it was my "breakup bender" and to the extent that was true. Until November came around and I left the club with a man that took me to a after party. It was a cold night I was wearing my usual striped black pants and a denim bleached stained button up with my black boots. I even had on my "sexy" calvin klein underwear on because don't get me wrong I was ready to have a fun night. However about an hour into the after party and I had drank more than I should. From what I recall the man I was with lived in the building we were at just a couple of floors below. I don't remember much in between cause as like many of my friends would tell you when I am drunk the way I was that night I pay attention to nothing. I'm literally free as a butterfly. If you told me I could fly I would believe you and jump from the highest bar table in the room. However that is one of my biggest flaws especially that night. I missed so many details. There must have been red flags, there must of been someone that saw that I was not okay. How did noone stop him. I just couldn't understand how I ended up in this situation and for months I blamed myself.
However, next thing I knew I could feel him on top of me almost suffocating me. Then everything goes blank. And when I say "goes blank" I mean that thankfully. I don't think I could of survived if I remembered details. If I remembered the way he pushed me down, or how he breathed, or how he smelt or even how he finished. I like to say that I was lucky I can't recall any of that. That morning when I woke up he was already getting dressed headed to a meeting in which I sat up sore and emotionally numb. It's like you could smell what happened in the air. Every breath I took felt like I was breathing in icicles. He mumbled something about how he has a busy day and that I should go cause I am holding him up. All I remembered was picking up my clothes off the floor which he wrongfully took off me hours before and walking into the next room putting them on. He didn't even come out of his room; like a fucking coward. He knew exactly what he did. Part of me wished I told someone, part of me wishes I went to the hospital and got a rape test and part of me wishes I was in court fighting for what he wrongfully did to me. But instead I took his two television remotes and keys from his countertop and while I roamed the halls of the building trying to process what just happened I chucked them down the nearest trash shoot like a big "fuck you" to him. After walking down every hall and every staircase I eventually made it out and walked home to 27th and 7th street.
Months went by and I told no-one. I kept my life the same and pretended nothing happened. I still went out to the same places with the same people. Even saw some of those same people who were there that night that I sorta recognized. But, I never brought it up just went on with my life and kept trying to move forward. Not realizing that it was one of the worst mistakes I have ever made. I tried filling my mind with lesser pains of getting mistreated by other men and going out so much to the point where I didn't have time to think. If I wasn't photographing, editing or planning for a new shoot. I was getting hammered to the point where I couldn't see.
After months and months of doing this it became to be less and less effective. Until with the catalyst of my two "old friends" [referring to my two parrots I had since I was 8 and was suppose to have till about 40] and than my grandfather passing away all my trauma from the past two years came and hit me like a bus.
The only thing that kept me going was the long walks on the beach. Even in the dead cold winter I walked along the shore. I began almost speaking out into the ocean as the waves crashed answering me back. I repeatedly would walk beside it and thought of a photo to create. Sketching it up in my journal at home that night than saving it for later. Until summer came. Until I was ready with the camera in hand to confront the man who raped me.
So now that you know.
I will see you all on September 22nd.
From my upcoming series "My Recovery."
Photo "Dear John"- Modeled by Brianna O'Rourke, assisted by Megan O'Rourke