Month: October 2011
I sat down to write this post last night at a kitchen table in Edinburgh. My friend Gemma was making barley soup, and Christophe was at the sink behind me, doing the last dishes from breakfast. If you had told me three weeks ago that I would be in their kitchen last night, I would have looked at you like you’d grown a second head. For once, I like being wrong.
We’ve been talking about a feeling that sometimes comes with plane or train travel, and maybe the best name for it is Bonus Time. You’re in the plane or the train, and you can see the world outside the window, and you’re hurtling through it, but it’s very far away, impossible to reach. Inside, your movements are limited, but time feels oddly expansive, as though you’re getting an extra minute for every three. You’ve escaped from normal time, and your reward is a chance to just sit and relax, or read, or listen to music, or sleep. Or maybe you’ll have to do some work, but it moves along with less friction than usual, because you’re in Bonus Time, and it’s roomy in there. That’s mostly what the past couple of weeks have felt like.
If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest – in all its ardour and paradoxes – than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside the constraints of work and the struggle for survival.
That about nails it. I go home tomorrow.
More soon, from Seattle.
P.S. Happy Halloween.
I love the mistakes that come with using film. Often, I like the mistakes more than the shots that turn out. That’s part of why I started shooting film. For the surprises. Whenever I pick up a roll at the lab, it’s like Christmas morning. Of course, it’s sometimes a sad Christmas, like the year when I found two sweatshirts in the box that I was sure contained a Cocker Spaniel puppy. But I’m learning to take what I can get. My friend Gemma has the most beautiful hands. I will never have hands like that. And while we’re on the topic of beauty, two words: bacon and sandwich. I hope your week is off to a very good start,…Read more
Hi, friends. I’m in Paris now. I know I just typed that as though it were nothing, but what I meant was: I’M IN PARIS NOW! That sentence should always be written in all caps, with an exclamation point. I took the train down from London on Wednesday, and I’ve been staying with a friend. From where I’m sitting on the pullout sofa in her living room, I can hear a moped in the square outside and Night Moves on the stereo in the kitchen. She and her husband are sitting in there, at the counter. He’s doing a crossword puzzle, tapping his fingers in time. They’ve been good to me. I shot a whole roll of film in twenty…Read more
When I was eighteen, I took my first big trip without my parents, and before I left, my mother suggested that I pack a nice notebook to use as a journal. In my normal life, I’ve never been a journal-keeper, but I took her advice, and for roughly fifteen years now, every time I’ve taken a substantial trip, I’ve kept a record of my days. Sometimes I’m a real champ, and I’ll write down every detail: what I overheard in line at the museum, how much I paid for such-and-such, which subway station I was leaving when that handsome man smiled at me and my heinous pink-and-white polka dot umbrella, or, tragically, which subway line I was on when I…Read more
Hi, friends. This is not the post I had expected to write next. In my head, there were going to be cheers, an obscene number of exclamation points, and maybe a picture of the evening street outside our apartment in Paris. But due to sad and unforeseen circumstances, our Paris Diary project has been postponed. I don’t know how I even managed to type that sentence, because I hardly believe what it says. Your support for this project blew me away, and I can’t tell you how sad I am. I was due to fly out of Seattle this past Wednesday, go to London to see my friend Brian, and then take the train down to Paris on Sunday. Because…Read more
I first met my friend Maria in 2005. She had a blog then called port2port – maybe you remember it? – and I can’t remember who found who, but at some point, we started reading each other’s sites. She lives in Portland, Maine, but that fall, she came to Seattle to visit a friend, and we went out for doughnuts and had a drink at the Alibi Room, my favorite bar back then. I was nervous to meet her, because I admired her: her photography, her style, the quiet way she writes, the details she notices in her daily life. I remember feeling amazed by how creative she was, by the fact that she made a living through creative work.…Read more
I was planning to start this post with something about food, because that’s the way these things usually work. But I can’t seem to start much of anything, because this is sitting next to my chair. This is Alice. As of last Friday, she has turned our family of three into a family of four. She is nine months old and weighs about 35 pounds, and though we have no idea what breed she is, we’re guessing some kind of pointer mixed with something else. Possibly a Muppet. Our friend Sam named her Peter Falk, which we changed to Mrs. Peter Falk before eventually settling on Alice, which was the name of Peter Falk’s first wife (though we changed the…Read more