Ambercelia Ingram (aka: AC)
To sit across from a perfect stranger, open yourself to vulnerability, and look into their eyes… What a wonderful gift of human connection!
I was invited to Berkeley to speak about Project 104. A true honor and conversation in and of itself. I intentionally left a spot open to meet and photograph someone while I was there, and I met Ac, who was our host at the quiet hillside AirBnB we stayed in.
We shot late in the day. We planned to be shooting as the sun was just hitting golden hour in that beautiful California light, but we got so caught up in conversation that the light was almost gone by the time we started shooting. We made it work and that conversation and connection was well worth missing the light.
I become more and more amazed at how we contain such an ability to open up to others, even complete strangers, yet we withhold this through most of our days and lives. We walk through the world, often feeling alone and discouraged. We walk side-by-side with others who feel the same. They're right there! They’re right next to you!
I’m not certain how it happens. An instant human connection like that. Even with a total stranger. Maybe it’s the expectation that is set. I tell people that we’re gong to sit down, have a great conversation, and I’ll also happen to take their portrait. I think that it sets up a kind of preparedness for the both of us. We’re aware that we’re going to dive in.
Whatever the reason, I’m glad that it happens. Connecting with someone on such a pure level creates and shows such hope and beauty in humanity. I still have a long way to go in Project 104, but it's really shown me just how alike we all are, no matter how different our backgrounds. We can all come together and truly connect when we take away all of the other baggage. All of the things that we think make us who we are, but they’re just trinkets that hang on the true flesh and bones of us. The flesh and bones are made up of discovered strength and unimaginable devastation. Of smiles and of tears. Our flesh and bones are made of love, joy, pain and hurt.
These things we all share. We may experience them differently, but they are part of our shared uniqueness as humans. When I’ve had the opportunity to connect with another on these raw, pure levels they have remained some of the greatest and truest connections that I’ve had. They take you by surprise when they happen and they leave their mark on your hear and mind. You’re forever changed with each one, and always for the better.
Thank you for your truth and vulnerability, Ac. I know that I simply scratched the surface of who you are, but I and so glad to know that you’re out in the world each day!
Love Aimlessly, My Friends
What gets you out of bed everyday?
It’s an inner drive I have to keep moving and keep progressing. I need it every day. It could be something small. It could be something big. My past experiences… seemingly constant confrontations with tragedy… getting past it… then in a month it would be something else.
It’s that inner drive that makes me want to keep progressing and use my experiences to make myself better. I know that I get week, mentally. I also know that I can move past it.
I have to just move. I don’t want to sit. I don’t want to waste my life and all the blessings that I have. I just don’t want to waste it.
Just the opportunity to be awake gets me out of bed!
To date, what is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?
Every day I try to self-reflect before I fall to sleep. My personality, and the experiences that I have every day, I want to be able to be the best version of myself. I’m not that person yet. Self-reflection keeps me honest. If I look back through my day and see something that I wish I’d done differently I feel responsible to make it right if I can. To acknowledge that I was wrong if I was. To apologize if I need to. I’m sensitive, and I don’t want to hurt people.
I think about the way I look to the world and what their expectations might be. I’m this tattooed, bi-racial chick and if I feel brave I have my hair out. I’ll be myself. Sometimes people will just touch my hair and think that’s just okay. I let them know that it’s not, and I want to tell them in love and honesty but people don’t know me and don’t know what to expect. Sometimes they get angry. I self-reflect and think about it. I think “Was I being a dick or was this person just not ready for someone like me?” Maybe they weren’t ready for someone who is going to be honest and let them know they aren't okay with strangers touching them.
I’ll go through that in my head as if the person was there, and even practice in the mirror to see what my reactions to others look like.
I think my mom taught me that. She told me that you should self-reflect and take responsibility when you’re wrong. Not to make excuses.
I want to do what I can to make it right. I don’t want to have been a giant asshole when I could have actually helped someone.
I don’t want to do anything to hurt someone. I don’t ever want to make them feel dumb or embarrassed. That’s a shitty feeling to have and I don’t want to have been responsible for someone feeling that way. I know that feeling. I know what it’s like to be mistreated and judged constantly on a daily basis and I’m always just swallowing it and taking it. Sometimes it’s heavy. Some days are really heavy. I don’t want to be a part of people’s pain. I want them to see me and know that they can ask me for help. Even if they don’t know me.
What is love?
Love is… SO many things. I don’t even know if I’m experienced enough to even speak on it. I do have love in my life, and it’s through friendship. Like Ben and Kelly. Ben… I don’t know if he knows this… we give each other a hard time… but he rescued me. He rescued me from just giving up. When I met Ben I had just come from Boston, my ex boyfriend had just duped me, I had no friends, no money. I was just so sad. I decided to come back here and just start over. I got a job and was living with these crazy people. There were orgies, they were all cracked out all the time. Someone ran a car though the house. I had to just quit and leave. I met ben and said “Hey. If you know anyone who needs a roommate, I’m the best roommate ever!” He took maybe 5-10 seconds and gave me the address to his house. …and I slept! I hadn’t slept in 3 weeks! I was so exhausted! He rescued me. He gave me an opportunity to work and be myself and take care of myself from my own natural talents. Then I meet Kelly and she’s such a great person! I’ve told Ben several times that I like her more than him. Ha! It’s so nice to have the opportunity to breathe and not have to worry about so many things.
Love is a chance. It’s a gamble! I mean, to say, “Here’s a key to my house.” Love is honesty. Real, true, transparent and vulnerable. “You have a booger. Let me get it.” honesty. A place where you can fart and no one freaks out. They just fart too. Haha!
I see it from all of the people that care for me and that I care for. Even my mom and sister from across the country. It’s honesty from all of them that helps me be a better version of myself. I get to take the information that I get from them and apply it. Even if it makes me mad, through my self-reflection every day I can realize that they’re telling me theses things out of love and honesty. If I’m better I can better love on people and animals around me.
About Ac :
Lives in Oakland, CA
Artist, MMA, Jujitsu, Dancer, Honest to a fault