What else can I say about the Roberts’ Family Reunion that I have not touched on before? This year, even the weather was identical to last year’s; muggy, overcast, air heavy with moisture. I take comfort in this ritual, in this marking of the year, of the first Sunday in August. Now, the summer can start it’s slow to decline to Labor Day. The green of roadside droops from heat and in shortened shadows, I laugh with my family over steamed sweet corn, over the variation of the years. What was I last year? Who am I this year? What will I be the next time I make the ritual drive out to Drums, out to this strange, lush piece of Pennsylvania life?
In the heat and sun of late June, I gazed out across coarse dry sand and tuned into and back out of conversation being had about people who’s lives have ended, who I have no connection to. I watched the bodies of the people on the beach in the hot sun, skin pink and irritated. The abundance and white of the oyster shells along the beach was stark and startling. Time passed slowly that Saturday as I daydreamed about my life, read idly the words of Tom Robbins, pondered what was for dinner.
Some days, I am at a loss for words. Lately, it seems I barely have the ability to string together cohesive sentences in text form outside of a conversation. I am bothered by my inability to talk or wax philosophical about my photographs; I want to tell you, dear reader, about how the world continues to tell me secrets about it’s beauty. It has given me someone who’s face and smile makes my heart lighter, who’s body next to mine feels a little bit like coming home, who’s brain makes me feel like I am not alone in opinions and outlooks. I do not know what we are or where we are going (if anywhere) but it does not seem to matter very much when we are together. The goodness of the situation trumps the gross, intrusive, inconsequential negative thoughts that keeping coming up about myself, my body, my brain, my history.
Dear reader, I really don’t know and it is really fantastic.
A few Saturdays ago, there was a trip to Asbury Park. Again. As I was anxious and bored, I wasn’t up for staying at home so I took off and did some running away. I spent about 6 hours in Asbury Park, looking, photographing and wandering. I ate ice cream. I played pinball. I sat in the sand, looked at the ocean, absorbed sun light. I thought about the idea of endless summer/youth, the end of boardwalk, the texture of ocean. I enamored with the juxtaposition of the culture that exists on the very short boardwalk and the rest of the town. Driving into town to the beach is a little strange, since the town is so ragged.
On the boardwalk, in this place of eternal summer, there is money, there is polish. In rest of town, there are pawn shops, there are rough edges. It is very quiet and unpopulated outside of the small space between the casino and the convention center. Silence lingers along Kingsley Street, in the green spaces that mark tourist population from the rest. I am interested in the space between the boardwalk and the rest of town. I want to explore it and work around that line, that threshold, that demarcation.
Outside of the running away, I am drawn to Asbury Park because it doesn’t have emotional weight to it, like the places from my past. It feels a lot easier to make images here, to make them without this heaviness in my heart and limbs. It is emotionally exhausting to make images in places loaded with personal history. I realize it is a bit problematic to make images of Asbury Park, because it has been photographed so much. I am not interested in making images that I know exist already; I want to look around them and extract something different.
With the air warm and thick like its been, I itch to move around, to drive, to explore, to see. The mercury hit 70 one day and the only thing I wanted, needed to do was run to the Atlantic and wiggle my toes in it’s bitter, cold waters. Let my eyes fill with sunshine and let my skin redden. Let me find that teenage feeling, just one more time. Let the salt stick in my hair. Let it be July.