I’ll be spending the next 3-4 months living in Sydney, working with clients and enjoying the milder climate and fresh air of the country’s east coast. It was sad to leave Bangkok again, so soon after my long-awaited return at the end of last year, but we’re all borne on this great wave of uncertainty, cresting and falling, trying to land on solid ground. And so I find myself here, far from home again, but with some great friends and colleagues to help see me through.
The above picture is an old tree somewhere a few hours north of Perth, on the west coast. I’d take a photograph from my current quarantine room here in Sydney, but I doubt anyone is excited to see the Commonwealth Bank facade or the highway peaking through the trees in the parking lot. One more week until I’m released. Apparently yesterday someone tried to escape after slugging back a few beers in his room. Luckily they caught him before he got too far, but what an idiotic legend. I can almost feel the fresh air seeping through the window panes.
Listen: I’ve been taking long walks through the city to try and rid myself of the doldrums and bad thoughts that too much time indoors can inspire. I’ve taken to taking my digital camera and a single 135mm lens along with me.
I began to wonder if I could find the essence of Bangkok in its details. If all of the small things could add up to one magisterial whole. It’s a work in progress that may never progress past what it is at the moment–a good reason to go outside and walk and try to see things a bit differently, to notice again all of the small and large scenes that often pass by unseen. But I’m enjoying it, counting steps and pointing my camera at so many clichés, occasionally finding something unique and worthwhile.
This summer I took a number of road trips across the continental United States. I drove over 20,000 miles mostly along Interstate-80 and on various highways and dirt roads that branch off and away from it. I followed the old Lincoln Highway and pieces of the Oregon and Mormon trails. I followed the settlements that followed the mountains and game trails and most other migrations. East to west. I shot 150 rolls of film and developed them along the way in campsites and cheap motels. It was a wonderful experience and one that I was lucky to have.
These are some of the photographs I took along the way. I only brought black & white film with me, so it was nice to also have a digital camera for those small moments I wanted to preserve. An old Amish homestead in Wyoming. Carhenge, Nebraska. The carvings at Worden’s Ledges. The Great Salt Lake and the Canyonlands of Utah. Vast expanses of deserts and plains. The grandness and diversity and beauty of the land is hard to overstate, in all of its natural and manmade forms. I just wanted to share a few of these scenes. They aren’t meant to be precious or profound, but they’re still well worth hitting the road for.
I barely recognized my apartment when I walked through the door three days ago. It felt more like walking into an old memory jogged loose. I was away for nearly 8 months, and being back is a bit jarring. Even after two weeks in state quarantine, it feels like I’m being eased into an older, forgotten life. And I’m still getting used to it.
I spent the better part of this year living an alternate reality and I’m still trying to remember everything I forgot about this one. There are books on my shelves I don’t remember buying. My refrigerator feels smaller. I can’t find things in the kitchen. Are these even my bedsheets? Where did I put all my Polaroids? There’s dust on the tabletops and even my hardiest succulents have given up their ghosts. I imagine some archeological digs are less confusing.
That being said, it’s nice to be back in Bangkok. It’s one small step toward normalcy, regardless of where the next steps may lead. I’m still gathering most of my thoughts, but I wanted to post something about being home. Or home-ish. It’s harder to tell these days.
These photographs were all taken before I left at the start of this year. But they feel a lot older than that now. Time capsules. Old memories jogged loose. So it goes.