The roads were familiar, but the specifics had escaped me. I had to guess at the turns more than once, always correctly in the end, but I hadn’t realized how much time, how much memory had already lapsed. Three years was a lifetime ago that I lived there. The pieces of that life were now only loosely pinned to me like little scraps of crepe paper trailing behind.
This was the first house that I lived in when I moved to California in 2008. I joined Oakland Teaching Fellows and lived in East Oakland with a bunch of other teachers, one batch for the summer, and a different batch for the school year. Every day we played “gunshots or fireworks?” except it wasn’t ever fireworks unless it was the Fourth of July. This either gave us street cred or just proved how privileged and naive we were.
Today, the house looked nicer than I thought it would. It was sunny. It was quiet except for a motorcycle that barreled down the hill. I snapped a couple photos. I remembered parties we threw, the relationships that we formed and that had dissipated since.
I headed up to the top of the hill, a vantage point overlooking the entire bay. Still breathtaking. There’s something about standing there suspended above it all that just feels different from the views from roof decks and fifth floor windows. It’s a bit removed, isolated, offering literal perspective.
In college, I used to go out on these sorts of photo expeditions unprompted. It’s a luxury, the freedom of being able to go wherever whenever with the intention to photograph whatever. But as sad as I am to admit it, it’s something I’ve begun to miss. Becoming a full time photographer has shifted my relationship to my camera. Bringing a camera isn’t second nature, it’s work. And there are so many different cameras and lenses to consider.
And yet, right here in arm’s reach I have the very thing I needed to know or see or remember… a little shower of crepe paper scraps, a sense of where I’ve been, and the wonder of where I am now.