11 August 2010

4 being present

my mother and i are going to denmark. there will be two of us and three cameras.

i have very mixed feelings about this, though two of the cameras will be mine.

in paris, my mother, aunt and i stood atop the tour de montparnasse, sipping champagne, waiting for the hour to strike and the eiffel to sparkle. when it finally began to shimmer, like a woman possessed by the soul of friedrich leica, my mother was suddenly compelled to preserve the moment with the perfect picture. and so what i remember about the last time i saw the eiffel tower is it's lights dancing like sequins in the night, the champagne sparkling in my hand, and my very great frustration with my mother, whom i love very much.

because, at the time, i was acutely aware that we would never be in paris again as we were then and suddenly i- a girl who had spent her whole life worrying about the future and ignoring her father's admonishment to Live In The Now- wanted nothing more than for everyone to put down the cameras and appreciate where we were.

we were in paris, after all.

my mother and aunt were seeing the city for the first time. they wanted to "bag churches" and check things off lists.

i had been before and was there then in an unprecedented state of emotional hemorrhage. i asked only that we bask.

with a degree of amusement blended with concern, they indulged my desire to spend indecent amounts of time sitting along the river listening to the accordion players. they let me tramp around cimetière du montparnasse, pausing before nearly every crypt at length to capture on film the unique slant of the sun shifting against the brightly colored doors. they knew that for me taking pictures wasn't so much a matter of commemorating a trip but a process of slowing myself down. when i wandered into alleys or lagged far behind, they would sit on a bench and patiently await my return. when, during brisk walks, i would stop them and say, but LOOK at the beauty! they would, obligingly, stop and look at the beauty and then briskly carry on.

they must have realized that i was, in some ways, there on a different trip. a sensation somewhat enhanced when, three days in, i came down with the plague, thus spending the remainder of our time there with a head full of snot and high on over-the-counter french drugs.

and so it was in this context that, at the top of the tour de montparnasse, i arrived at the realization that we would never again be as we were then, in that moment. a moment that i- thanks to a potent combination of alcohol and antibiotics- was fiercely adamant we must all enjoy. and upon which the cameras should not intrude.

which is ironic on many, many levels, but mostly just because it was coming from me.

there was this sunset in paris. a devastatingly beautiful sunset. and what i remember most about that sunset is (a) it's devastating beauty and (b) the devastating sadness when no one commented on the picture i had hastened to upload so everyone i knew might share in the devastating beauty rightthereandthen when they awoke in the u.s. the following day.

this is pathetic on many, many levels. that, i know.

and yet, this is an age-old dilemma. the love of travel and the longing, in the midst of that, to share it with the people who are not there.

i am going to denmark with two cameras. in part, so i will never forget. in other part, so you will know what it felt like being there.


Megan said...

Love you, Carolina!

P.S. I'm not taking any cameras to India--Mike took my camera over there already.

Les Savy Ferd said...

I very much like the part about 'slowing things down' enough to take a picture. That is wonderful.

I am often conflicted, i disdain cameras. Have you ever seen me with a camera before? exactly. I am certainly of the hopelessly pretentious 'life lived' variety, loathing the kids at shows with their cellphones in the air capturing blurry colored swaths of gently (or not so gently) aging indie rockers.

But, that is music, not a sunset. Make sure to take lots of photos. Lots and lots.

oline said...

oh, i will. i think, really, it can go either way- you can take pictures in lieu of actually experiencing where you are or you can take pictures to be there more fully (and yes, i just restated what i already said). maybe this is an age thing? not to be all "kids these days," but kids these days seem to have it backwards. so that the pictures aren't an element of what they're doing but the reason why they're doing it. you go to lollapolooza so everyone you know can see you were there. well that's my judgemental, craboline two cents anyway...

Megan said...

I emailed Caro this but I take the camera to commemorate moments in our lives. I've always cherished the last pic that we have of Grandma. I took pictures like crazy during R&R because I didn't know if Mike would come home. Let's face it--I primarily see my husband through pictures. LOL.