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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Odd Relative

Here I am, it's 12:27am as I write this. Las Vegas, Nevada. Sleeping on my sister's couch and trying to stop singing that goddamned song that Ariel sings from The Little Mermaid. The Disney Alert Level in this house is Orange. We are knee-deep in princess paraphernalia.

I fell asleep on the sofa tonight as everyone else was watching the season finale of Mad Men. Since I don't have a television and obviously do not watch the show, I had nothing invested in this episode or any other, and I fell asleep. Now my body clock is punishing me by mentally singing this infernal Disney song and making me write posts in my head.

Anyway, this weekend has been full of family and friends celebrating the littlest one's first birthday. I am staying in a place that is perfectly groomed and planned and made hospitable despite the raw nature that looms so hugely behind this housing development. I couldn't be any farther away from home right now. Not as an indictment of Las Vegas and the baggage/dreams this city inspires, but that all around us we are surrounded by the harshest kind of desert. Nevada makes me feel very conscious that I live on a planet. A rock in space.

Inside this new and lovely home, we don't feel the heat. The treeless mountains that loom behind us look as sharp as glass and are shaped like the fins of sharks. I can't decide if the mountains are protecting us from something even harsher or are just biding their time. I wake up thirsty and my lips are peeling.

In being introduced to my sister's friends and neighbors, and reacquainting myself with extended family that I rarely see, I realize that I am the odd relative. The one who doesn't quite know how to answer: So, what have you been up to these days?

The rootless one. I try to see myself through their eyes and wonder how I can answer that question in a meaningful way. Even if it's only in polite conversation, that question makes me paste a two-dimensional smile on my face that I'm sure is unattractive, and I can feel my eyes drifting off somewhere else and not on purpose.

I could say:

  1. I'm using photography as a metaphor for examining almost everything in my life and the world around me and cannot help doing so. It makes me extremely happy and self-conscious at the same time.
  2. I have a feeling that my life is in total flux and transition and although I'm not entirely uncomfortable with this state, it makes me impatient and often moody.
  3. I spent an hour curling my hair this morning.
  4. I'm doing great!
I've been going with Answer 4.

***

On Friday, my sister and parents drove me out into the desert so I could be my photographic self. I took almost 450 photos and some of them are stellar, even though I really can't see them until I get home and can import them into my computer. We four-wheeled it over rocks and dusty faint roads and they helped me notice things. In the desert, there is much to photograph.

So even if I am the odd unsettled relative, my sister and my parents understand. I will dedicate this next set of photos to them, for their love and in getting me to places I couldn't have gotten to by myself. I look forward to sharing these images with you soon.

ps.: There are two incredible installments on i live here:SF today. One in the morning (9:02am, Mat) and one in the afternoon (2:22pm, Catherine). I am BLOWN AWAY by these people for entirely different reasons but both have made me have crushes on them. Please promise you'll look at their photos and read their stories today.

6 comments:

Quarter Thrower November 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM  

oh how i can relate!

RNSANE November 9, 2009 at 6:16 AM  

I have been in Columbus, GA for almost 17 days, spending time with my 85-year-old mother who is legally blind and still lives alone in her duplex apartment. Thankfully, my friends of fifty years are still around and have taken me out to dinner several times - though Chinese food here is comical! I am going through major San Francisco withdrawal and cannot wait to land at SFO early Thursday AM. It is all I can do not to respond, "You've got to be kidding?" when people ask why I don't relocate to Columbus, now that I've retired!

Autumn Twig November 9, 2009 at 6:45 AM  

I really loved reading this post :) like 'quarter thrower' wrote, i can relate to this, not the situation that is, but the way you write what you feel

Brad November 9, 2009 at 7:01 AM  

>>> The one who doesn't quite know how to answer: So, what have you been up to these days?

I can identify with that and other similar questions - like I'm supposed to have a crisp 10 second snappy response on the tip of my tongue that explains all.

Another one is, "So what do you do?" In that somehow your job status/position defines who you are, and ultimately social worthiness...

Next time someone asks me that I'm just going to say, "Trying to adjust to parole supervision - being away for 20 years was tough."

Mari November 9, 2009 at 9:07 AM  

In the desert, one realizes that yes, nature will win!

Anna, The Lemon Lady November 9, 2009 at 3:25 PM  

I really like your writing too! I'm an odd relative too. Just catching up on some blog reading today. I have friends in Vegas I should visit someday...