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Along for the Ride

Last spring, when I realized the enormity of my upcoming birthday (a milestone of mythical proportions), I decided to start saving for a trip.  A Big Trip.  One that might even involve an airplane, and would definitely involve a lot of photography.  My original idea, once I ruled out a month in Italy (since that would require multiple years of saving) was to make a little tour of the UK to visit friends I haven’t seen in over a decade.  Further thought about this, however, made me realize that not only was such a tour beyond my financial means, it would also entail dragging my family along on journey through one of my past lives. That idea was shelved for the more appealing option of a road trip that would be fun for everyone.  

We divvied up the driving, but I spent well over half of my car time in the passenger seat.  This gave me time to think, and time to photograph out the window.  Once I remembered my Nikon F could go to 1/1000, I became more excited about the possibilities of what I might catch - and I sought everything, from scenery, to truck drivers, to road signs, and other passengers.

My daughter rode behind me, another passenger, in both the physical and metaphorical back seat of childhood.  She is a good traveling companion, even if it does take her 5 minutes to extract herself from her little nest at each stopping place.

Regardless of my driving time, making the decision to change my travel agenda, going from ME to WE, made me a passenger to begin with.  Passenger of my own plans.  Passenger of this summer, which belongs mostly to my daughter anyway.  Passenger of my own life.  It’s been years since I felt like I was in the driver’s seat; the last time was probably when I moved back to Texas from New York and bought a house, although that decision was not entirely one of my own making.  Many things drive me, but few of them are my recent dreams. . . . most of those got chucked out the window when I recognized that the things I want to achieve are mostly beyond my control anyway.  They are the litter on the side of the road of my life.  Maybe I’ll go back and pick them up one day, and maybe I won’t; things like that tend to biodegrade with time.  Besides, I am already in the process of making new ones.  And I have to admit, the view from the passenger seat is pretty dang great.  Being in control is highly overrated; sometimes it can be the best thing in the world to let someone else drive while you relax and enjoy the ride.

(We traveled from central Texas, through Tennessee, to North Carolina, and then back again via most of the southern states along I-20.  These photographs were all made from the passenger seat, mostly out the window, all with Nikon F and 50mm 1.4 lens, on either Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5.)