Every time I sign in for my appointment at Virginia Mason. I’m asked for my name and date of birth in order for me to check in and direct me to the right floor and pavilion. With a date of birth and birth weight that are exclusive to the number seven. I’ve more than become quite versed in the inevitable follow up “Oh wow. You must be the luckiest man alive. You should play the lottery.” Well, in the gazillion times I’ve heard those words.” I’ve smiled awkwardly, before advancing to point B.
This time however, Perhaps due to the nature of my visit. Or the fact that I had yet to partake in my morning coffee ritual. I couldn’t help but respond with the first thing that came to mind. I leaned in and smiled, as the words “I’m checking into a fucking hospital. How lucky should I feel?” rolled off my tongue. While not well thought or intended to have even the smallest hint of meanness. It felt good. As if I had been holding back a sneeze or postponing a celebratory jiz. Quickly adding “Besides, have you ever heard of someone winning the lottery using a succession of the same number?” I felt a sense of release and satisfaction. A heaviness left me chest as if a curse had been lifted. “Sorry kid, I had to test these guns before I declared war on the rest of the small talkers.” The next time someone hits me with a “God is testing you.” I’ll hit them so hard, their words will be lying in blood two miles down the road. Until then…
As we were celebrating my brother’s 21st birthday over a couple of tasty lobsters yesterday. I wanted to share with him the little wisdom I still had to offer. For the most part, we talked about school and the new baby our other brother had welcomed into the world just a day earlier. Though I wanted to speak as few words as possible and listen to the words of someone in the throes of becoming a unique and very intelligent adult. He seemed more interested in the city I grew up in years before he was born. My brother’s curiosity and curious nature had me on the hot seat.
Speaking in the most positive way this old coot could muster. I explained that much of the city I grew up in was gone. Yet my own personal experiences and stories kept it alive in my heart. How, while the drastic changes to the both the cities landscape and overall chemistry did not appeal to me. There was no reason they should deter him from finding his favorite corners, nooks and destinations. Change is inevitable and an integral part in our growth process. Without movement and change, we become stagnant. For me, or anyone else for that matter, to expect things to remain the same would not only be selfish. It would be downright foolish. And as much as I find myself shaking my fists at tourists and the franchises that have replaced many of my old haunts. I’m finding new and exciting things that appeal to my senses.Later that day, just blocks from the Bleeker St. corner where we enjoyed our meal. I came upon some pretty eye-popping street art. A convenient reminder how change brings possibilities. As I get older, I’m coming to realize it is not healthy to live in the past or worry about the future. To live in the moment. To enjoy the now. That’s my happy place.
Every now and then we need to be taken out of our comfort zone,.Shook up like good cocktail and have a little in your face with someone about something. When I look back on today’s little war of words. To be honest, with all the off the grid shooting I’ve been doing over the years. I’m surprised it hasn’t happen more often. Especially with some of the chances I’ve taken of late.
It was today’s little exchange however, that both caught me off guard and left me a little rattled. As we were returning from an Easter breakfast at one of our favorite upstate farms. We stopped along the side of the road to get some fresh vegetables to add to the days take. As my wife parked the car and headed towards the farm store. I crossed the road to get a closer glance of an old and (What I thought was abandoned barn.) As I began to cross the road I noticed two women walking towards me looking quite agitated. The younger one asked me what I was doing. I respectfully replied “I apologize If I’m on your property. It’s just that I was intrigued by that barn.” “Oh, that’s just an old broken down barn. I don’t mind if you take some pictures.” The offer seemed a bit back handed and she went on to note that the two dogs that accompanied her and what could have been her mother or the towns crypt keeper. So off I went. Moments later, that same woman was riding towards me on her bicycle armed with enough anger and spite to fire a mouthful of teeth straight into a vital organs. “This is private property! I didn’t say you could get close!” Jeezus, I thought she was going to pull out a pistol and shoot me dead. To say the very least, the exchange was so heated. I was expecting everything from a visit from the police to an updated version of leather face emerging from the barn. At the time. I didn’t feel I was in the wrong, but in retrospect. Maybe I just wore out my welcome. Lesson learned. Tread lightly, I suppose. I did manage to get a few shots without ever stepping inside. There was enough useless garbage stored inside the fuel a full season of Hoarders.
In my last post “Sometimes it’s better to go it alone.” Here. I mentioned going it alone when operating as a street photographer. While that thread may ring true in many cases. It can’t go without saying that she is both my greatest inspiration and a damn good lookout and second set of eyes. Often watching my back when I’m shooting in more risky areas. While also serving as a second set of eyes when it comes to security related entities.
Where as today was scheduled to be a very laid back day with a short trip to Ikea for an area rug. We spent much of our day exploring much of Newark, Elizabeth and Harrison. While not dangerous by any means. Select areas might have been a bit private and or restricted. So to my wife, a hearty thanks for being my lookout when it came to shooting and our late lunch in East Newark. I really enjoyed sharing a seat at the counter and getting to know some of the regulars.
I woke up from my best sleep yet at about 8:00 am. Three hours later than my previous days here. After a short breakfast, headed downstairs to soak in the hot springs. After a thorough soak and a refreshing shower. I headed to the adjacent room to dry off and get dressed before heading upstairs. Suddenly, I realized I had forgotten to bring a towel and the only thing there in the room to help me dry off was a box of tissues by the sink. Sopping wet with no phone or buttons to push for help. I took the shirt I wore downstairs and wrapped it around my waist hoping to slink back to the apartment unnoticed. Unfortunately for me and anyone else who might run into me in the halls or elevator. My entire back side was left exposed. With no other choice I began my journey back to where I started. First, the hallway, check. Elevator, check. Front entrance, check. I was home free. That was until one of the staff curiously peeked out from his office. Noticeably soaked and ¾ naked.
I did my best to back track my way up the stairs. Bowing respectfully, repeating Japanese pleasantries as I attempted to slink my way towards the apartment. While his view of my back side may have been limited to just a few seconds. I’m sure the memory will haunt him to his grave and beyond.
As I got back to the apartment I called down the long narrow hall for Kayuri. Instead, her Mom was the first to respond erupting in laughter as she looked on. Next in line was Kayuri’s Dad who immediately reached for the camera bag to document the holiday cheer. The laughter throughout the apartment could not be contained. We were all holding our belly’s, attempting to recover, long after I got hold of a towel. I’m glad I chose such wonderful people to expose myself to. A less humorous group might not take it so lightly. This little exchange far outweighs the first time her parents saw my tattoos, thinking I was in a gang. Or the time then entire family tried to coax a scorpion out the bathroom. Merry Christmas.
I’ve always been intrigued with dusty old things. The older the better. If it’s run down, rusted or sitting abandoned in an open field somewhere. It’s character, stories and history draw me in, inviting me to explore and uncover.
On our first trip to Blooming Hill Farm a few weeks ago. We immediately noticed this particular truck in distance. Driven by hunger, a little lack of balance and not being sure how to get close enough to inspect without dredging through the crops. We kept a respectful distance. On our return, my curiosity peaked and a sense of determination got me from point A to B without stomping the yard or losing my ever vanishing sense of balance.
As I grew closer I began to feel the trucks rich history and purpose. It had most likely served decades hauling vegetables from the farm to markets and restaurants throughout the tristate area. As I opened the cabins squeaky cabin door to capture the rusted steering wheel and eroded seats I imagined the many drivers who navigated that truck down dark and dusty roads on the way to the highway and it’s intended destination. And while my wife will often lurk close by wondering just what it is that draws me to things of this nature. She understands and perhaps shares that wanderlust.
While my wife and me are nowhere near retirement age. Our thoughts about the next step and where we see ourselves in the future remains a constant topic of conversation. More and more these days. I find myself looking to simplify my life. Less things, less people and less worry about the things that keep my mind occupied from one day to the next. When I look at the future. I see myself living in an environment opposite to the one I’ve lived most of my life. Another country, a different culture and mindset. Something close to the water, the country or even a farm. True, the future is unwritten. However, that will never stop my from composing the script.