I finally managed to organize and label a stack of photos I’ve had with me for years. They’re what’s left of my life in several states back in the US and in some cases the only evidence of certain moments that occurred before the net.
The exercise was the result of another exercise: I decided to write my Will & Testament. For no reason in particular, I just wanted to have one. I don’t have “much” in terms of material possessions, and I was surprised that my pictures played a very big role in the document. I am leaving some of them to people (should I be the one to go first) and that was a profound thing. It’s like the literal passing on of a memory, entrusting something we both love with its survival in mind.
I won’t share those here, but there are two that I felt like sharing. I feel like they connect to what a lot of people may be feeling. It’s been such a hardass bunch of days…put mildly, I know. I have no soothing words or sage wisdom. Sometimes, all one can give is an emoji, so… ❤
If you’ve got pictures to go through, go through them. Go somewhere that doesn’t exist anymore, and take a vacation. Appreciate what maybe you didn’t at the time. The present, while powerful, is optional.
These are things I want back. I’m not sure why I lost them, and I sure as hell know this lockdown is making them near impossible to retrieve, but I hope that in whatever world rises out of this one, I can get them back.
This is from a thai restaurant here in London. I was out with my inlaws and my husband for dinner a couple of years ago. It was warm out. The place was full, and so we were sitting at one of the outdoor tables. I was … somewhere else. Thinking about the plot of a book I was trying to write, and subsequently destroyed, but that’s another tale for another time. I remember I was feeling really crappy, though, and kept spacing out. Just watching things around me. And then this arrived! I love Thai iced tea. The waiter had just poured the milk over the top and gave me the glass with a spoon wrapped in a napkin. I stared at this glass for a long time. It reminded me of Hubble’s view of Jupiter. It reminded me of Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. It reminded me of how fucking beautiful the simplest thing can be. I want the feeling of wonder in the everyday back.
Fifteen (!!!) years ago, I was trying out life on the left side of our great map. My therapist and I were working on ways to get me to reintegrate myself into the world after many years of trauma. One of them was to experience nature on my own. Drama queen that I am, I didn’t just go to my nearby park, or do a weekend hike in the mountains. No, no — I rented a car and spent five days driving around I-25 and I-40, hanging out with my beloved deserts of New Mexico and northern Arizona. For being a born-and-bred New Yorker, I have a spaghetti western love for the desert that I can’t explain. I wanted to see all the parts of it I still didn’t believe existed, even though I’d driven through it plenty of times before.
I hadn’t been to the Grand Canyon. I hadn’t seen Meteor Crater in Winslow. I hadn’t hung out with desert truckers and tourists from other countries in lonely rest stops. And I hadn’t seen the mystic miles of Sedona, where spirits roam free in the red earth. I got to do all those things on that trip, and this photo was the first one I took when I got to the holy grail of my journey. I took photo after photo of the same thing, because I couldn’t believe it. It was as big and silent as God. I felt like I was looking at time itself. I felt, and I felt, and I felt. It was wonderful. The world was big again. I want a sense of a big world back.