In an Afar Essay I found a writer who knows how to travel.
“On an impromptu trip to Tokyo, without a single reservation in hand, food writer Helen Rosner explores the Japanese art of standing in line.”
While traveling I have found many recommendations to draw instead of take photos. I am not that kind of talent and though I actually have taken it up a bit…and found myself surprised, it is not exactly my way of traveling for the most part..of capturing.
I do take photos because I enjoy photography as a hobby, had I thought about it back in the days of modeling in front of the camera, I would have made a move to be behind them in a more professional way, but that goes into a story I call The Shift. A time before realizations, knowledge, Naivety, and this…fog you seem to one day come through and a time after.
But sometimes when I am out and about traveling I have been known to leave my camera at home, in the trunk of the car, or even in the vintage military bag slung over my shoulder…and believe me…with an added book and notebook, this is no light thing to miss…and yet…sometiems I forget all about it. Not because I don’t enjoy taking the photos and not because I don’t want to. I walk through life taking “snapshots” in my mind and I do enjoy finding these observations on camera later, sipping a drink and scrolling through (well, not film but…).
Often my traveling is with my partner and when we travel we talk, have conversations at most random, and we ALWAYS learn the most of each other I think when walking through some neighborhood or city or town or down some street sharing our observations. Sometimes our topic is about what we are seeing and doing and where we are, sometimes plans for more, and sometimes it has nothing at all to do with our location.
So, when we are holding hands and talking and walking or even sitting and sipping a coffee or cooling ourselves underneath a shady tree in a hot summer afternoon, or enjoying a lunch of the local recipes, I don’t always think to take my camera out of the bad and shoot…taking my attention instantly away from my in-moment while trying to capture it for the future. And thus…losing most of what I really enjoy, live, experience…in the moment.
Often I will laugh and say later “We were all dressed up and not a single photo!” (I NEVER get good photos of me when we are out and about-only an occasional sweaty hike day in I don’t try and be cute hike clothes on occasion) or “That was such a beautiful place, I will have to come back to capture it sometime with the camera…but I’d want to do it in the same time of year”…and I seriously end up making notes in my calendar….”Be at Japanese Garden in San Antonio, Texas in Spring after all is blooming but before it all dries up”. In fact, there is this amazing delightful little garden outside of San Antonio…Roudtop? It is the place they hold a huge Antique show every year in the entire town. like…a LOT. And there is this fantastic hidden place we found…once in Spring…no camera. Once in end of summer and all dried up but still beautiful. Neither time did I take photos…both times my bag was over my shoulder. Both of those times we simply a moment to live in. And actually quite personal to me. So…it is on the list for a late Spring visit again…one day.
One thing I do is write about my experience. Because photography is a hobby, drawing is only something new for my brain and trying something I always just said I couldn’t do, but writing is what I DO.
Now….I always carry a notebook and pen with me. But again, when we are together or I am in the moment walking even on my own, walking among shrimp boats and talking to fifth generation Vietnamese-American shrimpers, or if I close myself to a book and writing I close myself off to potential conversation at random, so I often don’t write along my travels…until much later when I am home and sitting with a warm tea at my table and then notebook…or faster and less hand cramping..computer at hand. And then I try and relive, capture…and well, a little work goes into that…and thus…what I do. When Joe is home he will see my face set, me sit with my tea and won’t bother me…he knows. My home is quiet, the hum of the A/C, the sound of summers bugs in the south singing their nights song, the sound of the bull frogs near by that I try so desperately to catch a glimpse of but they are pretty sneaky. And the day swirling in my mind. Then through my fingertips.
I don’t always capture what I want…what I felt…and sometimes my own tiredness overwhelmed me. Sometimes I will go to sleep reliving it all in my mind and wish that I could write nearly a drop of the potential my writing might not grasp.
I never regret not taking my camera out, not sitting down to turn my attention from Joe…or from what is around me at all, to write or sketch it, either. To write is to observe and see it all, hear it, take it in…but head bent over paper is also to instantly shut it out. You then place yourself in a silent gray box of a room and write about what you’ve already captured in your mind while you’ve shut yourself off from the world, the rest of it, the potential. This is best to do later…at home, in the quiet. But not then. I would miss out on so many conversations had I done so. So much connection to what I am in, around, near, and whom I am with.
Oh, I meant to say…this essay…it captures a lot of writing of travel experience. And living in the moment. Also in the ability to relax, wait, not rush, and not get angry at lines, and delays. Because sometimes delays are the best (A recent we had was one that took us to the oddest little shop in Alabama somewhere outside of Theadore…or south of Mobile? Or something like that, I am not even really sure. the shop was a medical supplies, kitty things with lots of rhinestones or perfume homewares…and milkshakes. I had a rare moment of totally not holding onto my pee anymore and Joe found a nearby “coffeeshop” he looked up on his phone. We pulled up and Joe asks if we should just drive on…but I couldn’t. We walked in, I said “Order me a vanilla milkshake” and ran to the ladies room. The one little section of 50’s-ish diner milkshake counter smack in the middle of one side being a place to buy a bedpan or feeding tube and the other things that women buy out of boredom. Upon coming back, the woman, my age, and I and Joe all began in a really good and long conversation. It always seems to begin with travel. Her husbands work was in the Navy and he was currently in Japan, unable to tell her what he was doing exactly or where exactly, though he piloted big Navy ships. Joe is Navy-Veteran and was Rivron in the war and now works on boats, she and I live a life who aren’t single…but often on our own. However, it ended up being one of the most delightful, nice people in the south, sort of conversations I’ve ever had. I walked away sipping my milkshake, my bladder relieved, Joe and I reading the window signs as we pulled away of bedpans, feeding tubes, and lunch. A true haberdashery I suppose. A place never would we have stopped had we known…and where we walked away fully non-regretful of our decision (or rather my bladders), because we got a full conversational taste of the south. Exactly the kind of thing we travel for. It was the end of our day and we then drove a few hours “home” and ended us on a very good note.
Now, the time that the jeep broke down right as we were heading home with hot pizza is a delay of a different story, however even that eventually had much good come out of it.
And our travels often slow down from what is planned…delays, changes, whatever….and we remember to take life a little slower.
Though, Joe in a line…I still can’t get him to enjoy that to save my life…or those around him. But I have well earned that sometimes the destination is worth the journey.