Today felt like my own personal holiday. My teacher had cancelled class so the day was free, which really meant that I had a whole day to dedicate to schoolwork. It’s funny how that becomes such an opportunity when you’re older; it’s something I had not realized before. I drove around trying to find locations for shooting portraits, and with the extra time, I was able to travel prepared, with rolls of film and tripod plates, and lots of pages in my notebook for documenting my exposures. I have a special relationship with the notebooks I carry, up until the point at which we are separated, or I simply decide to stop writing in one. They are windows made of vellum and bounded by ordinary string, granting me visual access to the ideas that pass by throughout the day. The coordination of mind to hands and ink to paper is strengthened through repetition and becomes familiar to the point where questioning the outcome/results is irrelevant. Whether a project will work out or can be accepted as a good idea is not as important as the visible trail that is left to be observed. The doodles, the residue, all acquire a grounded permanence, not only existing on the pages but permeating the air – maintaining a connection between the brain and external world that is constant and fresh.
That connection had dissolved almost instantly when I was getting out of my car to photograph a grocery store in South Side. My short-term memory had been filled with friendly gas stations and the crumbly, faded business signs comforted by the warmth of the sun – I had no idea where my notebook was ! I must have checked every crevice within my car four times, even driving back to a house where I had trespassed to make a photo (perhaps I had dropped it on the gravel in the backyard). With a small sign bearing the words “No Soliciting, No Loitering, No Public Restrooms. Protected By Glock !!!” I was a little hesitant to knock on the door, but at the time my loss was more important. So when the shirtless owner answered and shook his head, I felt it only confirmed that I had lost my notebook and my mind for good. Rounding the corner in defeat, my car sped by the grassy walkways, transforming roadside details into a blur, except for one thing. About 100 feet from the house I spotted the overexposed test Polaroid of a box of milk and goldfish that I had taped to the back of my notebook. Before I knew it, my hazards were on and I was running back in the direction I had come.
Needless to say I was startled and grateful that such an awful experience could end in my favor, but with everything I have ever lost that has come back to me, I recognized a slight change in the relationship between us. The fact that something so close and so personal had escaped into the unknown even for a brief moment, like a purse that was stolen or a lover gone astray, an event like that creates tension and anxiety that is somehow permanent, if not damaging. I have observed similar effects in the creation of work and the rediscovery that occurs after spending time apart. You love the material no less but are able to focus in a different way. I think it’s important to embrace the way minds shift, because that ‘re-connection’ may be stronger than the initial bond.