“Because the feeling of love was somehow tangible, compared to being in transit.”
I loaded the film on the South Bank of the Thames. I loaded it hastily so that I could capture a face – a face whose meandering crevices and nooks attested to the fact that its owner had seen a long, valuable life. The image of the grizzled face is lost, both to my consciousness, and to the frame – it’s been covered up by other, less interesting faces, inadvertently-memorized license plate numbers, and too-snappy advertisements that have since assaulted my psyche. Still I wonder – if that image had made it to the negative, would the face still be a part of my memory? Or would it just be a part of the frame?
“If concrete starts covering the rivers, then sir, we’re gunna have us a problem.” (common knowledge)
My memory of the time, as it seems, is much like these images. I can recall fragments – pure moments, gently overlapping and nudging each other aside. Whole journeys have now collapsed into a series of sepia-toned images and mumbled words: next to me on a plane, a woman speaks sullenly about her husband’s death in a tragic car accident; far away and longer ago on a subway, another woman tells the same story, only in softer tones and in another language. I can now pick out only words; I remember only images.
I landed in San Diego on January 27, 2010, after spending four hours in Charlotte, North Carolina; 28 hours in London; and seven months in Berlin. The light in San Diego was blinding, surreal, and fantastic. I spent my first few days there shielding my eyes with my hand, and trying to preserve my memories, by exposing them to a narrow sheet of plastic and emulsion – because I knew I would never be able to remember this, this moment when I stared at a guitar on a chain-link fence, and wondered to myself, “who the fuck would want to sell this beautiful item?”
“DO NOT ENTER. HABITAT PRESERVATION IN PROGRESS” (sign at torrey pines state reserve)
Walking around the suburban neighborhood I grew up in was at once nauseating and exhilarating. The streets were absurdly large; and the green on the trees and the blue in the sky were vibrant, compared to the recycled browns and greys of Berlin in the Wintertime. But I was bored, and longed to be with the woman with whom I had fallen so deeply, utterly, and fully in love with. Because the feeling of love was somehow tangible, compared to being in transit, and moving from place to place. Trying to make moments tangible is in principle a ridiculous idea – so, why do I bother?
I bother because of this: if I don’t preserve these memories, then who would? Not the lifeguard, because there’s no lifeguard on duty. Waves will continue to lap upon some lost shore, unseen by Mens’ eyes and forgotten by their hearts. The memory of a grizzled face is written over by another, and then another. And then finally all there is is light, a light where within you think you can see faint outlines of those faces, those shapes, because you are sure those faces, those shapes, those moments existed. The film jams, moments are recorded over other moments, and then, in the light, the memories are lost.