Strange Meetings

When I travel, I carry a camera; just about everywhere I go. But, it is often hard to focus. Not the camera–me–my brain; for all the travel.

So, much so that I often find myself somewhere along the way checking myself–“hm, what is that camera doing there? And why aren’t I using it?”–recognizing, on delay, that I am simply toting it as if it was an appurtenance; right past all the things that I should be pointing it at. Cradling it in the crook of my elbow, or allowing it to sway behind me, slung over a shoulder. Transporting it, but nothing more. Not bothering to unclip the lens cap, raise the mechanism to eye-level, fix on a target, bring it into focus, squeeze off a round.

Other times, once I remember to point and shoot, I am lucky if I can capture what I think I see–what may possibly be there. So sluggish is my travel-weary brain’s eye.

It is only after the day, or sometimes the entire trip, that I upload the shots to my hard drive to regard what plums I’ve managed to score. Often, this becomes occasion for a succession of WTF-moments.

Followed by voices that go:

“nope, sorry, too late to board a plane and go back and try it again.”

“You had your chance. That door has been shut.”

“The opportunity has long since escaped.

I bring all this up because of the video below–a slide show of shots from a few trips to Southern California, culled on time-lapse. There are snaps from an afternoon in Hollywood; a day trip to the beach community of Santa Monica; a long drive down to San Diego–and beyond: to the island resort known as Coronado. When you click on the “play” button, what you’ll find is just what the title indicates: a strange meeting. An aggregation of ill-matched situations, often gathered under the number one influence of peripatacity: post-flight haze.

Some might simply say “that’s Southern California for you”: a cornucopia, a compendium, a menagerie, a rummage sale of people and acts and objects. (Well, they might say much worse). But whatever they attribute to the locale would be charitable toward me. Because, for the most part, this particular strange meeting is all on me; all on account of the eyes and fingers of, and whatever decision-making was operative by, yours truly.

On the other hand, that said, there are times, when it does all come together. Just like the lyrical, haunting, inviting, wondrous tune that accompanies these slides–by Bill Frisell–and inspired this apologia. And when that happens, why, there aren’t sufficient words to describe or explain or fully understand. It just works, it simply is.

The strange meeting of elements–of indoor merry-go-rounds and Spiderman impersonators astride newspaper stands and tomato-hued apartments and fathers smothered by their kids in sand, and sunbathing pelicans and bored teens turning idly in circles on lampposts while chatting on their cellphones, and adolescents sitting numbly in miniature cars, and fortune tellers reading actual discarded dregs of tea . . . and so much more.

The strange meeting is purely–simply–the aspects of life; the stuff all around us. To be spied, recorded, mused upon, carried forward.

It is the strange meetings that so often makes life the treat that it is to live. And the reason why we peripatetics must continue to venture forth and record it.