Jeffrey A. Tang 2015-09-02 02:27:08
When I travel, I get up early and enjoy a sleepy city before it fully wakes. There is something about the soft, quiet quality of morning that helps me to rise early. On this crisp, gloomy day, I go out for a stroll with my camera, closely watching people perform their daily rituals: A sleek Dalmatian and his owner, dressed in all white, jaunt along the sidewalk; a man converses with his wife while a baguette sticks out of his backpack; a doting young couple circles a Parisian flea market. I reflect upon these sights, seeing a bit of myself in every scene. As I continue my walk and absorb the city around me, a steady sprinkle starts to dot my surroundings. I love the smell of rain, I love rain in Paris. A crowd ducks below a maroon awning to enjoy their coffee as black umbrellas bloom like flowers in the distance. The showers signal a change of pace in the city; people become preoccupied with nature, but I continue to observe under the cloak of drizzle. As bodies take haste with the rain, a father and son stop to look at something. The scene unfolds right in front of my camera as busy people dissolve into the background. Even the rain seems to disappear for a moment while I zoom into my viewfinder. I always stop to observe fathers and their sons. I watch how they hold hands, how affectionate they are. How nice that must be. Each picture I take is like a reflection of myself, of my desires. This one reminds me of my dad, and maybe of how I missed him growing up. I wonder what kind of sacrifices this father had to make to spend the morning with his son, what business meetings were postponed, what phone calls had to wait. I think of how parenting must be like a balancing act on a tightrope with responsibilities pulling you every which way. I envision my future self as a dad. What kind of dad would I be? What would I do differently? And then the scene escapes just as quickly as it was captured. All of my questions and emotions about fatherhood are swept up in the continuing crowd and then washed away with the rain. I’m reminded of why I’m here, in Paris, thousands of miles from home, constantly searching for meaning through my camera. We put ourselves in new environments so that we can have a clear lens on things. Every morning scene in every new city is a chance to rewrite the rest of our day. I continue toward the bridge that crosses Montmartre Cemetery and wonder what I will run into next.
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