Today is the due date. Regardless of whether or not it happens today, I will be someones dad soon.
If the audio clip didn't show up for you, let me know.
-the clip is the intro to Sweet Loaf by Butthole Surfers. I did not get their permission to post it.
Earlier this summer, while I was on my epic journey with Dave, we spent an evening in Portland, Oregon. Since both Dave and I had chums in the area, we parted ways. He spent the evening with his pal Chris, and I caught up with Jason and Shawn Kelley in Jason's glorious new home that he shares with his lady. The three of us have known each other since high school. Actually, Shawn and I have known each other since well before high school, but that doesn't matter. My point is that we have been friends with varying degrees of closeness for at least 20 years. Since both of them have been living in Portland for quite awhile, and I lived in Boston or Rotterdam, we haven't been hanging out much, and it was really cool to see them. One of the "catching up" things we talked about was my feelings about living abroad. Jason mentioned that he looked at my Flickr photo stream, and he asked me if I was lonely. My Flickr stream consists almost entirely of silly pictures taken with my cell phone. There are a few exceptions (notably the self portraits, some of the Japan pictures, and "fan" pictures), but the vast majority are pictures of the Netherlands made with an iPhone. Most of the pictures have no people in them. The subjects are objects rather than scenery or the good times that are often photographed by peoples' cell phones. I had never really thought about how others would react to them, and I was surprised by his reaction. I had to think about it for a second. Am I lonely?
I'm going to go on a bit of tangent before I answer any questions about the levels of my loneliness or any other states of my mind, but I promise that I will get back to that before this post is over.
Jason's comment made me think about one of the reasons that I became interested in photography. I used to look at my grandmother's photo albums all the time. They weren't artful or archival. They were quite the opposite. The pictures were bound in those crappy old albums with the cellophane over the gluey pages that you could probably buy in 5 packs at CVS or someplace like it. Most of the images were totally average snapshots with very little thought put into the composition, but meticulously labeled so any viewer would know precisely what was happening in each picture (This reminds me of a possible subject for a future Scott Wiener inspired post about the importance of titles, but I digress.). I liked seeing my parents and their friends as young people. I liked that everyone looked happy, and they made me look forward to a future when I could have good times, and take pictures with my friends. Soon, I will be a father. I can only assume that working title Babycakes will someday go through my photographs wondering why his dad spent so much time photographing himself and dumb shit around Rotterdam. Babycakes may approach me much the same way Jason did, asking, "Dad, Are you lonely?" (Since Babycakes will be a Dutchling, the question may be, "Ben je eenzaam?" I'm not sure I want to be called Papa, but that seems to be what Dutch kids call their fathers. More digression. Sorry.)
So, the answer to the question, "Am I lonely" is (drumroll...), I don't think so. Perhaps I am. I have plenty of other emotions we can discuss another time, but if I am lonely I'm not really thinking about it. When I think about lonely times, I recall my first year in Boston. I worked with people who were way older than me, and they thought I was a freak. I couldn't go to school for various reasons, so I worked in restaurants and tourist venues, but I didn't meet close friends there. I was so young, and I had a long list of mental trauma in the immediate past that I had no idea how to deal with. I remember how desperate I was for friendship, and how hard it was to find. I recall wondering if my move there was worth it, and why I didn't move back to Winsted where everyone seemed to be stuck in a perpetual good-times machine. My current situation is totally different. Yes, I occasionally want to move back to the US, but I live with Marleen. She's my best friend. She's also easy on the eyes, and we hang out out all the time, especially now that she is off work for the next 16 weeks. We are social as a couple and individually, and to be quite frank, I truly enjoy solitude. I get it where I can, and it is awesome. The fact remains that I don't have a particularly fun photo album for future generations who are curious about their family history to look at. Long ago, my immediate family stopped asking me to take pictures of them after too many fiery rants about not wanting to do such things in a more turbulent past. Blame it on art school beating the family album out of me. Blame it on my own pretentiousness. Blame it on me being an ass. Whatever the reason, I've been making an effort to take more pictures of friends and good times, so get ready for a serious explosion of fun. In your face.