One late afternoon I woke up cluttered with the remnants of a nap’s dreams. I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen you drink, but in my dreams you are perpetually the drunkard — cruel, incisive and swinging, your body a wrecking ball through the stage set of my subconscious. If this were real life I’d ask you to leave. If this were real life I’d stop laughing at your jokes, saying “it’s not like this even matters!” Ha ha ha.
I decided to take a walk to clear my head, but it’s dangerous, walking alone in this state, on this beach, at this time. Everyone else you see here is walking alone, too, looking meaningfully (really, is there any other way?) into the ocean. Oh vast expanse! Oh perpetually shifting shore! Grackles swoop from the sky like chimney dust, vomiting SQUACK! SQUACK SQUACK!
It’s too easy to assign the people you see here with secrets, small troubles. They lean against the pier, squint a little, sigh. They pull their coat tighter around their shoulders and walk on. Crash crash, says the ocean. You think: wouldn’t it be great, to stop one of them and ask to trade? Suddenly the only thing stopping you is physical, a lack of sound in the throat.
It’s always hard, at first, going into a foreign situation with a camera. You want everyone to be comfortable with your presence there, which involves some self-explanation or announcement and at least the illusion of your own comfort — but you also want to be invisible.
I’m always worried about weirding people out. Hi! I just recorded that! Like two inches from your face! This will go on the internet!
There’s a tenderness in recording anything, in defining it as a memory, claiming it to keep. And there’s a kind of devotion in selecting and editing that recording afterwards: bringing the light up on your face, adding some blue where tungsten became too yellow, removing saturation. I don’t know. Is that actually kind of creepy?
Each time I take your picture, I’m really asking you: “hey so is it okay, if I love you for a while? Just like this.” And there’s this moment when you could say no — but never seem to.
And hours later I pack up and go home, my chest expanding yeses.
Full album: from The Haunted Basement here.
“Do you remember waking up last night?” he asked.
“I woke up last night?”
“Yeah. You were sitting on the side of the bed.”
“I was sitting on the side of the bed?”
“So I asked you where you were going, and you said ‘nowhere.'”
“Were my eyes open?”
“It was too dark in the room to see you fully.”
“What did you see?”
“You were sitting on the side of the bed, facing away from me.”
“And then what?”
“I asked you ‘Why are you sitting up?’ and you said ‘Because I murdered you.'”
“I said what?”
“And I said ‘You murdered me! Why did you murder me?’ And you said ‘We fought one hundred battles, one thousand times, and I won.'”
Image by Janaka. Full album taken with our “ghost camera”: here.
So we have this friend who built his own house in the middle of the woods of rural Massachusetts, who just loves to burn shit. Last weekend: three hundred Christmas trees he’d collected from neighboring homes.
Due to various work and personal obligations, driving up there Friday night wound up necessitating complex scheduling, the main consequences of which were:
1.) an unaffordable and amazing dinner a nearby Greek restaurant (flaming cheese! Cava! Baked haddock, roasted garlic, gnocchi and smoked duck!) and
2.) pulling into a Christmas-lit Newburyport parking lot, pushing the seats back, and slumbering to On Point while I waited for my phone to tell me a necessary email had arrived. Tom Ashbrook was unusually bewildered, this time by veganism. You began to snore; I reached over to hold your hand.
Before we left Newburyport, we picked up the fanciest hot beverages we would usually be too embarrassed to order: pumpkin flavored things, steamed with cinnamon and cream. We held these cups like fragile creatures in our gloved palms and headed, silently, into the woods.
Full album: here.