Living in Frames, by meshing the lyrical moments of life with the captured images of experience. This is a reverie, a journey, the fork in the road, and the never-ending story....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lost and Found: Reclaiming My Experiences

In 26 years, I have called 15 different places my home. I have traveled, lived, and loved. All my experiences in this life, are closely tied to the people I have met and loved, and the places that I have fallen in love with. Some were brief encounters:

Following the beacon windmills of Kansas. Sheltering from red lightening in Western corridors. Passing the lonely veteran on Main Street who I gave spare change. The man with white cowboy boots and no name, who gave me the secret to life.

Then there are the epic relationships; family, friends, and lovers. Challenging the New England waters in my underwear. Letting my soul find peace in the Sierra Nevadas. Lingering in old museums, on rainy days, just to feel inspired.

Think of Silly Putty; that pink, leathery glob that you can roll and squish under your palm, with non-demanding pleasure. When I was five, I discovered that pink putty could create a newspaper imprint, like a reverse stamp. I would find my favorite words in the local paper to carry around in my pocket, sometimes for days. Then when I would find another special word, I would peel the putty from the cotton lining of my pocket, fold the old word back into the glob, and make another imprint. I would imagine that the putty was magically storing all these words within its elastic body, never forgotten, even if no longer visible or tangible. And one day I would stretch it out and have a full novel. I imagine my own experiences were created a bit like this, storing in the putty of my mind, to stretch and morph into the many stories that have become unique to my life.

The other night, I was recollecting the places I have lived and traveled to, and how they have been a backdrop to the people I have met and loved. My experiences in each one of these places, will always be mine alone and no one else will be able to recreate the experiences I've had. And when I remember these places, it is not by what they had to offer, but what I discovered on my own. For within every memorable place I have been, there were memories created, giving me a deeper admiration for the place as a whole.

This thought resonated with me. With these ever-happening and changing relationships (with both people and places), it is difficult not to leave something of yourself behind as well. Especially, if there is an unexplainable attachment, that takes years to understand or fully realize. It's those things that one day you look around for and discover they are no longer the same, and at some point along the way, they were changed and maybe are now unrecognizeable. So often we hear ourselves or others say, when articulating a past relationship, "I lost a sense of myself ", "I am no longer the same, as I was", "I do not feel whole". Then we set out to reclaim what was once ours, and the essence of what made up who we were in that experience, or in that moment.

Where I currently reside in New England, I have grown to love very specific places within New England, because of a memory that unfolded there or how that place made me feel from the beginning. The other night I was feeling nostalgic about my special places and considered revisiting them, hoping to become rejuvenated or reclaim little parts of myself, as I had been feeling more in pieces than ever.

"Maybe", I had thought, "I just left a little too much behind over the years."

I began to list my favorite places in my head, but with each place I realized I had shared this place with a person I loved, and now if I were to go back and revisit, it would no longer be MY special place like it once was. The original memories and how a place made me feel, were now replaced by new memories, and if I were to go back, then I couldn't help but remember that person in that place. And I didn't want to. I wanted to reclaim my place again, but would that mean I would have to forget the memory I had shared with that person? Or could I even still love these places, after they had been shared? It was a dilemma.

How much easier it would be, to have a Lost and Found, in cases like these. The information desk would be run by one those sweet, frumpy ladies from the public library; endearing and all-knowing. And when you arrive, they give you one of those "You Are Here" maps, that has all the answers to the "what-if-should-i" questions you seek. Here you would be able to reclaim those things you gave up, somewhere in your life; your dream of visiting Africa or Brazil, having children, or writing a book. And in my case, the places I cherished and people I have loved, that are no longer mine.

So, I've decided to find something new to call my own. New places where I can find comfort, happiness, inspiration, and reflection. The old places will never be forgotten, I am just tucking the rest of my impressions away for safe keeping. And it is my hope, that the trail of pieces I have left behind, will once again reveal themselves to me, whole and shiny. My endeavor for the next week, month, and year, will be to document these new places, literally and visually. I will travel to them alone, but will share them with you here. Just as they will inspire me, my hope is to inspire you too.

 

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