I am a diver now. In fact I made rescue diver recently. When I started, I was impressed to be diving with a rescue diver who assisted my instructor. He seemed so knowledgable and experienced. I am that now. It doesn’t seem so much of a deal anymore. I just keep an eye out for the less experienced and lend a hand when I can. Jules and I are on a dive boat headed to see the whale sharks at the blue hole in Belize. This is a world famous dive destination. At this point Lisa had arranged a nice beach resort vacation and part of the package included a snorkel outing. So here we are on a boat full of divers, and, Jules and I don’t dive! Not yet, it would be some years for me to realize how close we were to a dream come true and we didn’t see the whale sharks. We just happen to be sitting in front of BCD’s ready to go. I also fried my point and shoot camera on this dive as well. It was eventful for what I didn’t know and what I came to know later. Looking back i can see so much of what meant nothing to me at the time Lisa snapped this image.
This story has been told but I will tell it once more. As I spun my archives this picture is before me with the story behind it. Jules wanted a tattoo. “No!” was the emphatic reply. I agreed with her mother. It’s rather a permanent thing and you will live with it when it gets wrinkled in old age as well. Okay – resolved.
We were on a cave walk in Belize. You wore battery operated headlights. The guide was one light short. He went without a light. Lisa and Jules got ahead. I fell behind to the end of the line. The cave was hot! I was sweating profusely, and cursing quite a bit under my breath. There was another older tourist who should not be here. He was out of shape, overweight and had labored breathing. I thought he was going to collapse at any moment. We were deep into the cave now. And I calculated whether we would carry him back or forward; it depended on the halfway point. So I labored on and wondered if we could actually carry this heavy man anywhere.
“She has a tattoo!” came the voice of my wife out of the darkness. What? Well as you see, they were walking single file and as Jules bent her head, there high on her neck under her ponytail was a tattoo,
When I finally caught up to them she explained. My favorite aunt had been asked to provide Jules with a Chinese name. She made a phonetic Chinese character, which translated to early spring lily. Jules explained that the tattoo was a lily in remembrance of my aunt. Okay, that takes care of that. How do you say anything else.
Poetry. I found myself in Norway for a colleague’s birthday. I was hijacked into attending. First I enthusiastically agreed to attend and then he told me where. Can you beat that? He held me to my promise. Then my supposed roommate was another neurosurgery colleague. Except John was very smooth with the ladies and he picked up his own roommate, a rather good looking blonde at the airport in Oslo. Harald had to scramble to find me a place to stay and I was consigned to the loom room in a shack behind a farmhouse. I would add that he was compulsive and needed to guarantee enough rooms for guests coming in from around the world. So he bought a hotel for the weekend. The farmer had remorse about selling it to him, so Harald sold it right back at a profit. The room I had was view to the cows passing back and forth to the barn several times a day. It’s a bit of a different view from the Manhattan skyline.
Scotland again. Before they were called selfies, here’s one we did. I was not shy to use a mirror. The only thing was that the result wouldn’t be known for quite some time. There were no retakes. At most I might shoot two frames. This was the better of the two and barely passable on technical merit. But it reflects the time and place. Another shot from the archives that I bet Lisa hasn’t seen or remembers. I look back at the early work. Film was pretty restrictive and unforgiving. But there were enough shots that came out to make for some great memories.
It’s formidable. High on a hill it has been besieged unsuccessfully and successfully throughout history. I’m sure there are better shots than the one I have. But the point is that I took this. I was there and this is my 1/125 second slice of time and place. These days with no limit on my memory card I’d have many shots as I approached and the view changed as I got closer. This trip I took two. I laugh at how sure I was that I had what I wanted and only clicked the shutter twice.
I’ve been there and you could guess it was many years ago. There are restrictions and tickets necessary to visit now. Somebody made a pile of rocks. Yes, it’s a mystery. And of my shots, the ones (2) that counted had Lisa in them. As I have said there are many images one can find of monuments. What makes them different is the people in the image. You go places. And you take a picture and that picture is mine. It makes all the difference that I took it. But I’d do things differently now.
Once upon a time we did road trips in Europe. We’d rent a car and drive from one place to another with a general plan but no reservations. We would pull into a city and hit the tourist info center for a hotel reservation. It worked pretty well. There was a place in Antwerp where a number of roaches marched around the twelve foot high ceilings. I received a can of bug spray by way of my complaint to the manager. We never unpacked and he graciously handed back our money. In Belgium (no names to protect the innocent) we had secured a reservation and were headed across town to find the place. Stopped at a railroad crossing, I idly noticed this hotel. At my urging Lisa entered and asked about rooms and prices. She came back with a price of about $20 when the currency was converted. I said, impossible and sent her back to be sure. She not only confirmed but had also looked at a couple rooms. It seems the rooms were mostly open and available to view. Well, it couldn’t have been nicer than the one we were headed. The price was too good to be true. I remember mirrored ceiling but maybe it was the bathroom. The next morning we asked about staying for an extra night. The desk clerk ascertained that we would be out all day touring and then she agreed. Later that day Lisa had a small issue and needed a change of clothes. When we entered the lobby, the startled clerk explained we couldn’t enter the room. It was in use. Because of the train station next door folks used the rooms during the days to rest before continuing their journey. Lisa used the restroom and I noticed a beaded curtain and a couple emerged holding cocktails. My suspicion was reinforced by the parking lot full of cars. The lot was empty again in the evening. You do the math. And for the second night it appeared that we were the only guests again. Years later and armed with my story and picture, grandma and grandpa tried to get a room. No dice. I figure, they figured we were just a couple poor Americans kids and they took pity and let us stay a couple nights.
Well that’s what Lisa and I called them. We traveled without a plan. And in Brussels we chanced upon a fair or festival. These guys were dressed in head wear that reminded me of craniotomy dressings. It was quite an elaborate affair and in my inexperience I wandered around getting some random shots. I would do it all differently knowing what I know now. But that was then. And these guys make me smile every time I run across the image.
We were in Brussels. I take pictures of silly things like mailboxes. The first shot was devoid of people. Then to my surprise a kid came and posed. In those days I just took a single shot. Today it would have been a series of clicks. But this was it, the one and only. Cute. Spontaneous. Memorable.
Guilty! There are folks who have expensive cameras, (not too many any longer), who have them stored in that camera bag or camera case until the moment comes for taking that ‘picture.’ Not so many bags any more, but I do see people walking around with lens caps on their camera lenses. In the time it takes to get the camera ready, the ‘moment’ is often gone. Digital has freed us. We don’t have to sparingly conserve film. And the smartphone, iPhone, has made it pretty convenient to shoot an image, and video too. I don’t shoot much video. With all the video I’ve shot, it’s now on DVD’s and no one much looks at them. So I’m comfortably sticking to images.
But my point, Grandpa Bill had some pretty nice camera stuff. And he kept it in pristine condition. The used camera market would list the stuff 9+, almost new condition. And Uncle Pete (Bill’s brother), was the same way. He kept a lot of treasures in pristine condition and well protected. Pete’s old Exakta was given to me in a large leather case along with its accessories. Nowadays film is dead and these old cameras are ‘art.’ It doesn’t make sense to have art and not be able to see it. So they are out now rather than wait for the kids or grand kids to discover the dusty cases. And my old Nikon SLR bodies are out on the shelf collecting dust. I look at them and realize that as I moved up through the Nikon line with better and better camera bodies, I never went back much and shot again with the old bodies. The kids did a few times. It’s kind of like feeling guilty about old girl friends I never stayed in touch with. I do have regrets but the future and history shows I was pushed forward. As for my cameras, DSLR, point and shoots, iTouch, and now iPhone, all are in readiness for action at the ‘drop of the hat.’ I carry one in my pants pocket. I hang a camera on my neck riding a bicycle. I went to Iguazu waterfalls in the pouring rain (umbrella blowing) and soaked myself and my Nikon DSLR. We both survived. I have not been bulletproof and I did fry a couple of Nikons (one film, one digital). Hey, it’s ‘living.’ You can live sheltered and never take a chance, or, you can ‘go for it.’ Everyone has a line where they think they won’t cross, a risk benefit continuum so to speak. Meanwhile all my cameras sit out getting dusty and ready to shoot.