Thursday, September 4, 2008

Zuster Bren, a Chronogical Petri Dish, and Two Hotel Rooms

We often use other peoples lives as a form of measurement. We feel old when our nephews voice drops, we feel scared if our parents show signs of age, we stress about our own hangups when an old girlfriend gets married or has a child. It's like the lives of those around us act as a ruler to compare how quickly, how deeply, how important our lives could be. We're not supposed to compare ourselves to one another I guess, but really what self examining person doesn't draw a parallel or two? Bren came home today, I posted this 18 months ago when she left.
I left the airport thinking about all that has happened since she left, how full life has been, what kind of person have I become in this chronological petri dish?
Not going to really share what conclusions I came to, but I guess it's a good thing that I
couldn't have expected half the things that have happened. Just start at that blog post and work your way to today if you have time to kill, probably paints a semi accurate picture of the time between. I have learned so much and thought even more about what I want out of life, what I am supposed to be giving in life, and expectedly I ended up confusing myself most of the time.
Although distance has a magic to it, I am glad she's home, we've probably spoken more in letters than in person. From two hotel rooms in two different states I was so glad to have someone to write a letter to.

Price, Utah:
A representative from MSHA told a small group of the media that search efforts for the trapped miners, and the rescuers sent in after them who also become trapped, would be suspended. We spent the next two days looking up every miner's family member, hoping to tell their story. It was awful driving to the homes of those grieving, desperately trying to convey your good intentions with carefully placed introductions. We didn't have much luck. Editors wanted stories that we couldn't get, it was too fresh, too soon, the families were over the media. I had been back in Utah just a few days after working the summer in Colorado. Was still just working part time for the paper, wondering what I was going to do with my life. Returning to the motel that night, I was a cocktail of being heartbroken and feeling guilty from approaching all these grieving people, frustrated at not having something to give the editors (all I wanted was chances to prove to the paper that they should hire me and I was coming up with nothing) plus the normal existential funkiness that seems to follow a 24 year old around. It all sort of culminated and I couldn't sleep. The writer snored in the bed next to me, I wasn't mad at him, just jealous of his sleep I think. It doesn't sound bad but I just felt awful. The only release I had was my laptop and a pair of headphones - I didn't realize until I got back to Salt Lake and was at the blessing of my niece Sophie, a few days later, how grateful I was for having someone to type out a letter to. There are apparently therapeutic benefits of letter correspondence.

Denver, Colorado
In Denver for a really short story, we arrived early in the day and would work the following morning. The hotel was so posh and located right downtown. A beautiful dark wooden desk with a gold lamp and leather writing pad was positioned next to a rainy window in my room. I had been so busy in Salt Lake with school and work, the solitary rest of the day was the perfect condition to start thinking too much. It got dark and from the inside of that room the lonely birds began to roost, it was raining still and out the window messy orange lights glowed from inside every grade of shadow.
Once again I wrote her a letter, I reminded me of nights in Germany where I felt that same melancholy feeling and somehow figured she knew what that was like, herself in that cold grey European winter. Another letter, another session of latent therapy.

I hope it is normal to use the lives and events of others as a reference point for oneself. This particular one has closed; she walked down the escalator, her little brother held a cheesy sign, she gave hugs to her family, she's home. I could just keep writing letters I imagine...maybe I'll just send them to Santa now...or Dear Abby or my congressional leader...."Dear Orrin Hatch: In a hotel room and feeling funky".... Probably not a good idea.
Welcome home Bren.


Alma Naylor said...

Reading your post makes me think back to all of the letters I've written, all across the world. Some in hotel rooms, some in tents, some in parks. Some letters to people that didn't even exist. It's deffinitly therapy.

Anonymous said...

Ok, it's official - your blog makes me cry. And compare myself to you. I find your ability to capture the emotion of a situation and to transport me right there is absolutely amazing. Then to read the wonderful commentary that you add to it is extraordinary. You sound like an intelligent, caring person and are for sure, very talented. You have inspired me to take more of my own photos for my blog (and ignore the voice in the back of my head saying "but you don't own good equipment!) and to make my posts more meaningful in doing so. Thank you.

Mozette said...

I'm an ex-skater and miss my sport like crazy. But I was forced away from it by a melanoma on my pivot leg (I'm a goofy stance; so it was my left leg) and the strength never came back to it fully. When I saw your pic of you skating with your brother, it brought back memories of how I used to go out and do it alone.
Being on the other side of the Pacific, our lives are so much the same and yet so much different.

I loved your words and the way they flowed almost without being forced. The photographs are just a beautiful and bring out the full meaning of what you're talking about in brilliant colour.

Being a writer myself, I make pictures with words... photos aren't really needed; so my craft is something that needs to be worked on daily. I've been using this form of communications for over 20 years (yeah, since high school... where I scared a few teachers and had barely any friends).
You are a rare and excellent talent. Keep up your blogs. I'd like to read more.