I decided to be stingy. Fifteen dollars to check one piece of luggage; screw you Air Tran. But I couldn’t manage to carry two laptops and my camera into one carry on bag and one (grande sized) personal item. So, I begrudgingly chose to bring my new laptop instead of my camera, thinking at least I could surf the net in the airports or play games. And the end result is a series of visual experiences left to impermanence and my mac’s undefeated record against me in chess.
It began with the flight from Atlanta to Houston. A thick fog had descended upon the Texas town early in the morning, causing the airport to shutdown. No flights in or out. The pilot informed us that we’d detour to Austin to fuel up and hope Houston would reopen, but at the last minute, 50 miles shy of Hobby Airport, landing was permitted. And as the plane began its descent, it was like seeing cloud city. Skyscrapers floated on clouds, everything beneath unseen but the rolling hills of white. Soft silhouettes formed large figures walking towards this sky cityscape, creatures with low swinging arms, a giraffe, leaping lion, how the clouds mold their world like clay. I silently cursed myself, counting the first image I should have captured if I had taken my camera. When will I learn?
The second laptop is my old one, being given to my sister and her family to use. And not even a day in, the monitor suddenly goes black, processes an image once every dozen tries. In the 6 years I’ve had this laptop, this has never happened. Sad little pout faces from a niece and nephew, and I cannot figure out how to fix it. After a google search, I hope it is the inverter unit or back light bulb, hopefully low cost fixes. Seventy dollars later and it is in the hands of the Geek Squad for a complete diagnosis. If it’s more than a hundred dollar fix, I told my sister to sell it on Craigslist, hopefully to a computer geek looking for a quick fixer upper.
The next series of images should have been captured at my eldest nephew’s baseball game Friday night. Originally, my sister said the games kept being cancelled; so, I figured, it’ll likely be the case that night. Of course not. So, I sat there watching my nephew bat, running and stealing bases, playing center field, all wishing I had my telephoto and tripod. It was the first game of his I’ve ever seen, and he’s sixteen. And after seeing the website of the current children’s sports photographer in the area, I was even more pissed at myself, knowing my images would be better (yes, that’s ego poking through).
This is another lesson learned. I hate mourning the images I didn’t capture, all because I wanted to save $30 in check luggage, what a selfish twit I’ve become. My SLR is heavy, it takes up space, and I usually don’t have it with me 80% of the time unless there’s an event I’m attending or a planned shoot. This is a poor habit, and if I can’t have it with me, then I should have a smaller camera purse sized friendly to always have with me. I should know better, one never knows where a moment will be worth snapping. After a year, a camera should be like another appendage, an extension of my hands and fingers, it should be a part of me like every other limb.
On a different note, I’ve spent the last hour looking through the work of photojournalists across the world. Specifically, the Women in Photojournalism website. Just the week, I was elated to have placed first in the People category of the Charleston City Paper’s annual photo contest, even more excited when I learned one of my images was also the cover. But I don’t like to stay on this cloud nine of ego and pride for long. I like to remind myself how far I have yet to come, how much progress there still is to make, and it is through seeing hundreds of images, so emotive and poignant, satiated with life’s beauty whether it is manifested tragically or wonderfully. And I think this is the path I need to head down, the one that I feel calling me, now I just need to pursue it with a determination I have invested in less important things over this past year. I have turned my back on Bangladesh for this reason and more. I have found what compels and moves me, and I can no longer compromise it for things that bring me no closer to attaining this goal.