I’m nothing to do with what you think/If you ever think at all/Bi-polar opposites attract/All of a sudden my water broke/I love you for what I am not/I did not want what I have got/A blanket acne’ed with cigarette burns/Second-rate third degree burns/What is what I need/What is wrong with me /What do I think I think
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter – Nirvana
Sad realizations worked my brain over as I flipped open my phone, pointed the camera at something and snapped the shutter. Waves of melancholy washed over me — it’s been to long since I’ve done this. But against those waves a flood of joy surged forward as I loaded up my backpack, strapped the cameras to my body and took to the streets of San Diego.
When I say too long, I really mean it. The last time I’d set out by myself with the intention of just quietly walking about and photographing anything that struck my fancy was February 9, 1999. My 25th birthday. My subject? San Francisco — my favorite muse.
I couldn’t possibly know it then, but my life was on a fast track to monumental change; Kerouac was just two years away from being born, houses to be bought, wars to be fought. A lot of living, a lot of loving, a lot of growing, a lot of painful learning.
Enough of that for the moment.
I opened my laptop, checked out sunset for the day – 7:55 p.m. Plenty of time. I tossed the batteries on the chargers and started thinking about what I wanted to photograph.
There really is something about walking around a city at night. I don’t care how much you think you know the place you live, walk around it once the sun’s gone down and I promise you, a place you never knew existed will appear before you’re eyes. But only if you’re watching.
Sure, there are all the familiar touchstones, the places you’ve known as far back as you can recall. But the denizens change. San Diego undergoes an extremely dramatic transformation going from one of America’s favorite tourist destinations to a city overwhelmed with the houseless and homeless.
I say that not as a point of derision but more of an indictment against those in city government who would hypocritically proclaim there is no homeless problem in this city … “LA, LA, LA, I can’t hear you, LA, LA, LA!” Estimates put the number of homeless in San Diego near 10,000 in a city of 1.3 million.
Man, I sure am taking a long road to get to where I want.
I’m not the biggest fan of San Diego, but there is something about getting out on foot, tapping into the main arteries of a city and letting all that is around you overwhelm you. I’m not talking about taking in the restaurants, bars and other overly populated haunts, but just walking about. Sitting down on a street corner or bench and watching the people move about, finding that moment, snapping the shutter.
I found myself getting lost in imaging the stories of those who passed by me and my mind wandered. It wandered, traipsing along … how far I’d come since my birthday excursion in San Francisco. It wandered to my life at this moment and how far ahead I’ve got to go – still so far to go.
But unlike days past, peering into the future didn’t feel me with dread or apprehension — there’s so much out there right now to be happy about. I thought about K and Robin … I wished they were both with me at that moment. I wanted to share my joy with them, to watch it grow with their presence.
What is what I need.
Shockingly, I discovered I’ve become really timid in my photography. So many images created and barely any life – that must change. Either I’ve lost my marbles or my mojo, either way, I will find them again.