The Long Way Home


Tybee Island
April 23, 2015, 7:22 AM
Filed under: Georgia | Tags: , , ,
in the blue

endless

I confess: I cannot swim. Not in the real way, anyhow. I float on my back so I can look up at the sky and listen to the sea. The first time I saw an ocean was in Virginia. I was 11, and I took a raft into the water to ride the waves, only to be surrounded by jellyfish, translucent flowers swirling near my arm. Later, my sister got stung by one, her small thigh swelling up to almost twice its size. I learned the power of the water. Yet still, I have beach dreams. On Tybee, I wandered off saddled with cameras, shoes slung over my shoulder. Crashing waves, a bickering family. Broken, glistening shells. A tiny ship in the distance.

a memory

a memory

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Savannah Morning
April 22, 2015, 6:38 AM
Filed under: Georgia | Tags: , , , ,
welcome guest

welcome guest

It’s 9 AM. Jeff and our friend Tim are having dude coffee talk, and I am in the backyard, rigging a tripod out of an overturned wooden table. The sun keeps slipping through the clouds. We are 11 hours from home, and while I love visiting Savannah, I long to just be in my bed, hug my cat, hide out for a few days before going back to work. Savannah, though, is good to us. The night before, we ate BBQ ribs at Johnny Harris, and then bought a dozen Krispy Kremes with $10 that Jeff found on the ground. We visited Tybee Island, and later, walked to get drinks in the rain. I got a little tipsy, and this morning, find blurry night photos on my iPhone. I wanted to capture the soft darkness, the way the lamp lights glowed across a tiny square like something out of a film. I erase them. I flip through the instant shots I have taken on this trip, brush donut crumbs off the edge of a frame.

Savannah morning

Savannah morning



Strange Vacation
April 21, 2015, 6:50 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , , ,
Florida livin'.

Florida livin’

It is mind-numbing and surreal, driving 16 hours from home. We take one suitcase, one bag of cameras and film, a snack-filled cooler. We make a playlist (mostly Steely Dan this time, which Jeff calls his “prescription from Dr. Wu”). We play road games, the alphabet one being a favorite (“Name a band that starts with _”). There is lots of excitement in the beginning of the  drive – adventure awaits! – then time rolls on, and we’re hungry. Tired, cranky, we bicker over directions. There are breaks at scenic highway overlooks and creepy little mom-and-pops selling crushed Twinkies. State by state we shed layers of clothing to accommodate the heat. We are confused, we are lost, we laugh at the dumbest things. When we reach Ocala, I roll down the window and cup my hand to feel the outside humidity. It’s one of the few places where I’ve watched it rain on only one side of the road – dark clouds competing with the sun.

the rain divide



Journey’s End
April 20, 2015, 6:48 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , , ,
Cross Creek, Florida

Cross Creek, Florida

Today starts Polaroid Week and I thought I’d share photos from our recent Florida road trip: two per day for the next five days. I took these two along US 301, the Mother Road of the South. This was the first time in our history of traveling there that our GPS went wonky; we drove in seeming circles, our navigation system winding us off highways through the beaten tracks. Lightening shot through the skies, illuminating the rolling green land where horses grazed under canopies of Spanish moss. There was that fresh-cut grass smell permeating the car as I rolled down the windows, and a sound I haven’t heard since summer: the hum of crickets.

US 301, Ocala.

US 301, Ocala.



Gem Way and Other Stories
perspective

perspective

Garfield, Pittsburgh: The longest I’ve ever lived in one place. When I was a kid, we’d bounce from apartment to apartment so often it became spring routine to start looking through the classified ads for another place. The trick was to not get too attached. I made do with small spaces. What accumulated over a year was easily let go for convenience sake. Moving taught me how to let go. When I moved in with Jeff nine years ago, I remember loving this strange storefront-turned-living space, but the street behind it, Gem Way, was a total wreck. There was the abandoned building next door to us that attracted drug addicts and urban explorers, and the building next to it that caught fire, sending black plumes of smoke through the neighborhood. A lawyer rented out the garage beyond that to local bands, so there was the occasional loud dance party keeping me awake on work nights. I’ve documented Gem Way over the years, and have come to love its strange vegetation poking through the fences, its ivy-covered houses and broken pavement. The family of groundhogs nesting under our porch, and feral cats wailing at the moon. Its graffiti-covered brick the only shots of color on a gray Pittsburgh morning.

snow garden

snow garden

convenience

convenience

gem way

gem way

spak brothers: home of the best seitan melts

spak brothers: home of the best seitan melts

time travel

time travel

north millvale ave. from gem way

north millvale ave. from gem way



Roads Ahead
January 14, 2015, 6:42 AM
Filed under: Puerto Rico | Tags: , , ,
Arrival, Puerto Rico.

Arrival, Puerto Rico.

A new year, a quiet few weeks, the long winter ahead. I’ve permitted myself some time to just chill and not overextend, which means binge-watching Orphan Black, and reading A Detroit Anthology; A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Last month we had an amazing trip to Puerto Rico, which I’ll write about soon, and now I’ve got the travel bug again. It’s been awhile since we’ve escaped far away. Once we woke that Friday morning at 4 am to catch our 6 am flight – traces of snow on my shoes as I walked into the airport, eyes barely open, suitcase bumping against my leg: I ached to go everywhere in the world. My main resolution this year – goal, or whatever you want to call it – is for more solace in my life. More saying no without guilt. More letters and connecting with others, online and in every day life. More adventures closer to home. More exploring the direction my photography takes me. I began this year with two photo submission rejections, but the editor was so nice in one of them, I thanked him and he wrote back: a thoughtful gesture that eased the sting. More accepting failure with grace. Also more discovering all the crazy shit I love along the way – here I go.

San Juan, PR

San Juan, PR

 

 



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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