If you go places, things happen. You don't know what they will be, don't know if they will be bad or good things, and maybe that's reason enough to stay home. Not much happens at home. It is a tranquil life, by and large. There is the morning coffee, the afternoon nap, the evening cocktail. You have your books (Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost) and later t.v. And I would stay there with you. . . but you're not here, so once in awhile, it seems time to go out and saunter.
Yesterday I sauntered. It was a route I've walked many times before, but I haven't for a long while. It is along a strip of highway approaching Gotham that is changing rapidly, at least the mile or so stretch I was on. In that little stretch you pass through a gay section, a hipster section, and a stretch known as Little Asia. Much of it is crummy, but there is an upscale bar/restaurant that got a Michelin mention and a bbq place that has gotten great national reviews. I got out for my stroll late, but the day was cool enough and bright enough that it wasn't bad. The restaurants were already full with the brunch crowds. I walked both the highway side and the street running behind the shops where the alternative shops lie--many Buddhist places and witchy shops selling dried toads and eyes of newts, books on Tarot and Palmistry and harnessing the powers of the cosmos. I took two Leicas in a small canvas bag. I limped along taking photos for the first time in. . . ? Beats me. I had some new ideas I wanted to try and felt no pressure at all to make anything good or important. It was pleasant enough to be out and about.
As I ambled away the afternoon, I thought about the trips I haven't taken because of my knee and other things I haven't done. I feel vulnerable now not being able to fight my way out of or run away from trouble. Not being able to run is the worst. I wasn't going to win many fights anyway. But if you can run, you can maybe hide. Crossing the highway at one point, with cars coming quickly, I tried to jog across the four lanes. Good God! What has happened to me?
Other than those disconsolate thoughts, however, I was pleased to find I could stay on my feet walking for hours, and that was good news.
As I passed by shop windows, I was looking at the transient reflections and tried to photograph them. It is rather difficult and will take a lot more practice to get anything decent. But there I was, often, and I could see myself limping along. I came to a barber shop. It was old fashioned with the barber pole and all. Sure, I thought as I stood on the sidewalk looking in. A big bearded fellow stepped outside.
"Do you need anything," he asked?
"Hey. . . I was thinking about taking a picture."
"Come on in. I'm just closing up."
He picked up his sandwich board ad, folded it flat, and opened the door. There was no one inside. The place was wonderful, a replica of old barber shops with stuffed animal heads on the wall, an old cash register, and three chairs.
"Wow," I said, "this place is beautiful."
I took a few pictures, but I didn't have the right lens with me to do a decent job. The barber was a friendly guy and we talked about his business for a bit.
"I can send you the pics if you want. I'll come back sometime with the right camera gear if you like and take some more photos."
He wrote down an email address on the back of a piece of paper and handed me a comb with his web address on it.
Back on the sidewalk, I thought, yea. . . this is what you should be doing. Adventuring, meeting people. . . oh, shit! Wait! I didn't even take his photo. Why didn't I take his photograph, the barber in his shop? I am an idiot. WTF? I felt really stupid, but you know. . . I am out of practice. . . and I am shy. Was it shyness, though, or a lack of confidence? Well, I thought, they are not mutually exclusive.
Still, I felt good, and in a little while, I was back where I had parked. It was not late and I thought to head to another place and maybe walk awhile longer. Things are always changing and there are many little pockets of weird shops and strange bars along some of the main drags. I was headed to another on a side street, one that ran behind another artery, when I saw what looked to be a freshly painted white building with a large, empty parking lot. There were freshly painted concrete parking curbs and white lines on the black asphalt. I pulled to the side of the road. I reached over to grab my camera thinking to take my time. I was always rushing. I'm learning not to rush, I thought. I am a man of leisure.
But when I got out of my car and crossed the street, a pickup truck had pulled up next to the building. Shit fuck piss goddamn! A fellow got out of the truck and began crossing the parking lot toward me, shouting.
"Do you need something?"
"Ha! You're fucking up my photo," I laughed waving my camera. He kept coming.
"Are you a tenant here?"
"No. . . I just wanted to photograph this building with an empty parking lot. It looked so blank and stark until you pulled in." I was still laughing.
The truck began to roll across the parking lot behind the fellow approaching me. They arrived simultaneously. In the passenger seat was a pretty woman. She was smiling.
"Ah, good. . . look at that. Now I can take the picture. Thank you."
The fellow said they were being careful. They had two guys who had been hanging around and there was a break-in recently.
"Do you own the building?"
"Yes," the fellow and his partner in the driver's seat said simultaneously. They were young and I could see the pride they took in saying it.
"I don't know if the picture will be anything at all, but I'll send you a copy if it is."
The fellow outside the truck took out his phone. I gave him my number. I thanked them for moving the truck. We were all friends now. It was fun.
When I got back into my car, though, I started beating myself up again. A picture of the pretty girl leaning out the window of the pick up truck looking at me, that big, blank back of a building and parking lot in the background. . . . Why? Why oh why hadn't I?
Yea. . . confidence.
I decided I'd had enough for the day and headed for the Cafe Strange. I wanted a mimosa. I wanted to look through the photos I had taken. It was getting later now, and I would have to get ready soon for dinner with my mother. I needed a shower. I hadn't had one all weekend.
When I walked in, a pretty girl rather cafe con leche was working the register. I was thinking of the people that day that I had not photographed. I would certainly remember to photograph this person if. . . .
But what I was lacking was the thing that everyone had asked me that day--"Do you have a website or a social media page?" Somehow for people now that lends legitimacy to what you do. When I say "no," they ask me what I do with the pictures. There is a great gulf, I guess, between putting them up on an IG page and not posting them. It is crazy to me that an Instagram page makes one somehow legit.
I am going to HAVE TO make a webpage.
After a good dinner with my mother, having been drinking mimosas since the cafe and wine ever since, I didn't feel like downloading the pictures and working through them. Just before darkness, I poured a scotch and sat out on the deck to think through the day. I've been looking at a lot of YouTube videos on photographers. Lots. And there are some heartbreakingly good pictures. But they are rare, and even the best, most exhibited photographers have a lot of photos that by themselves would be o.k. but not spectacular. I have stuff. I have some really good stuff. But all I think about is making more and better. I have ideas. All of my ideas take cojones, though. Balls. O.K. Could be ovaries. What I mean is confidence. But I have enough good stuff, so why do I doubt myself? Why am I so shy about it all? I've shown my "work." It was well-liked. Polaroid in its new form has had me in workshops to try their new products. They put me on their web splash page. They have sent me free film to try. I mean. . . what's up with me?
I know. I do. And maybe I'll tell you sometime. Later. Maybe. But you have probably already guessed. Maybe I'll tell you sometime and we'll see if our answers match.
At dinner last night, I told my mother I thought I would head over to the coast for a couple days this week. I had thought to leave on Tuesday.
"When is your doctor's appointment?"
Shit! It is on Wednesday.
"I guess I won't be going," I said.
My mother was worried about Halloween. I will spend it with her to help pass out the candy. I've been doing that since I got run over and it has become a tradition. Halloween? Jesus. October will be over. I had planned on traveling in October. My friend in the midwest was going to drive me around to make photos.
"My beauty appointment is coming up, too," I said.
"What do you want to do for Thanksgiving?" my mother asked.
Q is in NYC for the next month. He sent me a photo he took out the window of the apartment where he is staying.
I took the liberty of punching it up a bit, but there you are--the Big Apple. I told him I might be up before he leaves.
Wouldn't that be something.