The Long Way Home


City That Never Sleeps
November 16, 2014, 8:12 AM
Filed under: New York | Tags: , , ,
View from Ellis

View from Ellis

I traveled to New York last month with my friend Becky, whom I’ve known for over 20 years. Her sister Angie and brother-in-law Mark were gracious to open their home, and their world to us, 41 floors above this magical city – because even years later, after life’s twists and turns and travels  – New York still has a soft spot in my heart for magical things to happen. Our main agenda for the trip was Ellis Island – Becky wanted to look up her family roots – and so I aimed to take postcard shots since Ellis was the most touristy thing I’ve done on a trip in a long time. It was a beautiful fall day, so we walked, everywhere: through Times Squares on our first evening; from Battery Park all the way back to Midtown the next – each neighborhood we slipped into and out, I felt it become smaller, more intimate. We ate at Casa Bella in Little Italy, took a detour through Chinatown. I loved seeing two women sitting in a park, gently pushing their children in their strollers, trading stories in the early dark; how traffic glowed, and apartment lights clicked on, twinkling.  I thought about years ago, I had to decide between Sarah Lawrence for grad school or stay home and go to Pitt: I was very young then, too scared to move far. I wanted to travel, and didn’t know if I could both afford living in New York and taking off; I chose home to see the world. It was the first time in my life that I experienced that proverbial fork in the road, and each time I go back to the city, there is a tiny “what if” that tugs in the back of my mind. It isn’t one of regret so much as curiosity of how we end up the places that we do: I hadn’t even thought of picking up a camera then, and now I can’t imagine life without pressing the shutter. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting my Flickr friend, Yvette, who grew up in and around the New York area. I was nervous, but excited, wondering what she would be like in person after following her photography for years and exchanging emails. Even though it’s more common to have online friends now, it’s still such a strange thing, isn’t it? And amazing, when you think about it, that we have this Internet thing now to connect us. Once she walked up to me and said hello that Sunday morning on the corner of W. 38, I relaxed. You’re real! I joked, happy. We walked: to Union Square for brunch, then to the International Center of Photography, to bond over what connected us, sharing stories about our lives along the way.

From the rooftop.

Saturday, Sunday.

Saturday, Sunday.

City that never sleeps.

Postcards from New York.

Letting go.

Letting go.

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Limestone House
July 25, 2014, 7:05 AM
Filed under: New York | Tags: , , , , ,
Limestone House

Limestone House

Actually the house is not made of limestone, but in Limestone, New York, a hamlet just over the PA border of nearby Bradford. It was once, I’m guessing, part of a family farm, and is now filled with abandoned antiques. Each time we’ve gone up to Olean, we pass by this place, and each time we stop I peek through the windows to see if anything has changed; two years later and the living room is still filled with coat racks heavy with military jackets, an art deco metal glider, peeling rose wallpaper in the hallway. The kitchen is unrecognizable, the stove replaced with broken chairs, debris littering the floor where the fridge once stood. The porch is dangerously close to caving. There is a heaviness I feel as I tread the tall grass in the backyard. The windows are eyes, the door always open, daring us to enter and discover its secrets.

House in blue.

House in blue.

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On the Road
July 20, 2014, 5:49 PM
Filed under: New York | Tags: , , , ,
Motel DeSoto, Olean, NY

Motel DeSoto, Olean, NY

I love mid-week road trips. You get that tiny thrill of playing hooky from your life while everyone else is at work, going through the usual routine. It’s like flipping everything upside down for 48 hours. It also means there is nobody around, which makes photo adventures all the better: few interruptions from curious onlookers, less traffic. Wednesday becomes more like Sunday with everything open. Jeff is from Allegany, a tiny town in western New York. We went to visit with his sister and her family.  I’m fascinated how isolated Allegany is from everywhere else: “everywhere” meaning Buffalo or Pittsburgh, the two closest “big”  cities. How did he learn about punk rock? Where did he see art house flicks and go to basement shows? These were the things that a river-town kid like me agonized over if I had to grow up far away from city life. I’ve spent the last few weeks working on photo projects, working day-job OT, and exploring the back roads around us. It’s my birthday month, and I’m celebrating all I love about July through my lens.

Olean, NY

Olean, NY

Olean, NY

Olean, NY

Us.

Us

Olean, NY

Olean, NY

Somewhere along PA 66.

Somewhere along PA 66.

the open road.

the open road.



Great Lake
November 25, 2012, 8:49 AM
Filed under: New York | Tags: , , , , ,

dunkirk lighthouse

Sunday morning and I sit here typing with the sniffles. It’s snowing now; I spent most of  yesterday wrapped in blankets, watching old monster movies. There’s something comforting about black and white films: the static in old prints, the grand music. It reminds me of Sunday afternoons as a kid, how isolating they felt if you left the television realm. While organizing my photo files, I remembered the ones taken at Dunkirk Lighthouse from last month’s western New York trip. Dunkirk is a resort town that hasn’t changed much since the early pictures I saw hanging in the lighthouse museum. A map on the wall showed tiny ships crowding the lake’s surface, marking shipwrecks. There are over 300 souls lost in Lake Erie. We searched the lighthouse lawn looking for clues that something once lived there.

lake erie

westfield diner

interstate 80



I <3 Buffalo
November 8, 2012, 8:16 PM
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cold, windy sunday

Curious about our northern sister-city, we drove to Buffalo: sprawling, flat land running east-west like a city should (unlike Pittsburgh, land of winding hills and one-way mazes – I still love you). We stayed at the Lord Amherst Motor Hotel in a tiny room that smelled like smoke and Charlie perfume, and Jeff and I got into a little tiff because I forgot the toothpaste and deodorant. What happens when you haphazardly throw the first things you see into a suitcase and bolt out the door after a long work week? Inevitably you forget things and end up at a local Wal-Mart around 1 A.M. in unfamiliar territory, getting a taste of local culture while shopping for Crest. We never got to eat ‘real’ Buffalo-wings, but we did eat sponge candy which Buffalonians claim as theirs: a chocolate confection with an airy middle like Cadbury Crunchies, but fancier and beef on weck: salty roll flecked with caraway seeds, stuffed with tender, rare roast beef and horseradish. I still dream about that sandwich. Like most rust belt towns, it felt like time stopped in the 70s; it rained most of the weekend, the sky so intensely overcast it turned the world around us blue.

prudential guaranty building, 1894

central terminal

church and pearl streets

allentown neighborhood



Postcards From Niagara
October 30, 2012, 7:43 PM
Filed under: New York | Tags: , , ,

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Niagara Falls: honeymoon capital, power generator, land of wax museums and other creepy kitsch, you’ve always captured my imagination. It’s usually overcast, cold, the surrounding city forgotten, yet there Jeff and I were with the rest of the crowd, whipping out camera phones to capture this dreary moment. Except I was with two different Polaroid cams trying to get self-portraits while it rained, which is why they turned out so blue. No matter how many times I’ve visited, you still leave me breathless; the roaring river masks the chattering of tourists, making me feel as if I were the only one standing at the edge of your waters.

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New York is Not Just a City
November 14, 2010, 7:52 AM
Filed under: New York | Tags: , , ,

dudley hotel

The strip of New York that borders northern Pennsylvania is like a secret part of the country. When we told people we were headed to New York for the weekend, their faces would light up, then fall as we corrected them — not City, but Olean and Salamanca. It’s frustrating when people have no curiosity about a state outside of the cities that mark it on the map. I want to see the places that nobody has heard of. I know what it’s like to live somewhere that nobody knows. It makes you feel protective of your little town, even if you have a complicated relationship with it.

watchtower

there are so many large, old homes like this in salamanca

seneca theatre

morning shadows




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