The Lonely Path to Pulling Up Stakes
I’ve been away from the blog—and my beloved Nikon, lights, and studio for weeks.
I’ve been frequenting airports, again. Talkin’ that interview talk. Playing the role of the suit.
At least the creative variety.
I’ve accepted a new Creative Director’s role near the land of my almost Southern birth. My tripod, filters, and copy of Aperture will be coming with me, albeit regulated to after hours and weekend status.
For a while.
You absolutely cannot take the idealist out of even the most jargon-laced advertising creative. I do believe this. And the most organic, free-flowing expression for me comes from wielding a lens. Any lens that’s close at hand. The camera in my hand becomes a seamless expression of my heart at the moment, or rather, at 1/125th of a second. Or less.
The most recent excursion had it’s moments of remarkable solitude, but I was so caught up in the reason for the trip, that I was emotional Teflon. I suppose you could say I was armored. Looking back on the shots, they look lonely. Depressed. A few from the sheep as he looks away from the prod, and towards the other end of the chute Roger Waters sang about on Animals.
I was listening to The Wall on the iPod during the flight…
Gone are the hot meals on flights. This…is depressing to me. I feel sad for the stewardess (I’m old enough to remember when that title had some pride attached) as she hands out my black pekoe tea bag and the little cookies. She was meant for greater things. The first sushi I ever ate was on a Chicago to Seattle 747. After Seattle, it was bound for Tokyo. When it was time to give my order, I opted for the salisbury steak. The old woman next to me who was my seatmate, a woman I had never uttered a syllable to before that moment, elbowed me and said, “wimp.” I ordered the sushi. I’ve loved it ever since.
Even before 9/11, flying for me was always a military affair. The precision. The power. The way the doors of an aircraft look armored; they’re like the doors on a bank vault. All the gears and levers exposed for you to see, like the way a bug wears its skeleton on the outside. But before the smoke filled the sky for days that September, flying was something elite. Now, there’s nothing elite about taking off your shoes, along with thousands of other people, before getting into a tight tube, hurling its way to a business meeting.
Or, your potential new town.
The pre-flight rituals are all rather morose, now. There’s very little joy in airports. Einstein loved “travel stations,” like airports and train terminals. They were places where time shifted, and where people greeted each other with opulent displays of joy.
I can’t remember the last time I saw someone at an airport, where their arms were flung about the other in that sort of exuberant, over-the-top ecstasy that can only happen when your heart is stuffed and over-leaking with My God I’m So Fucking Happy to See You, to Smell You, to Feel your Skin Against Mine.
Styrofoam ceiling that extends for weeks. Stainless steel and aluminum that fester with the germs and bacteria of untold teeming thousands of gropes and weary touches. Carpet that you wouldn’t select to put in your own home if someone promised to vacuum it for you every single goddamn day for the rest of your never-to-fly-again life.
Even the luggage looks lonely.
But then, don’t they always?
Everyone walks a little faster once they’re off the plane. The idea is to get out of the airborne herd. To feel like your body has expanded to fill your clothes, again.
As you walk through the terminal, liberated from the in-flight advertising, the beverage service cart that clips your elbow, your shoulder, your feet, you think about the hotel bed with the short sheets, and the price you’ll be paying for the plastic-wrapped cup in the bathroom when you brush your teeth later that night.
My new job will have me flying considerably more than I ever did during my last job.
I wonder if the emotional impact of the experience will morph and change.
I’ll be sure to bring a camera. It will show me what I’ve been protecting myself against.