One of the things I’ve noticed about my little project to take at least one photo a day is that it sort of gives me a roadmap of what I notice, and what the shape of my day to day life looks like. In weeks when it’s mostly work, and I’m mostly on my own, the world is pretty narrow, and what I notice is pretty limited. And often, I find myself looking around at the end of the evening for something — anything — to photograph. I do slow down and notice things, particularly light, and sunsets, but when the flow and interaction of my day to day life takes place more in virtual than physical space, it’s sometimes hard to find moments of embodied presence, noticing the visual. It’s hard to take a picture of a phone call, and there are only so many captures of screenshots or the readout on the treadmill in my gym that are remotely diverting.
So weeks like this one look like this. The light in the corner of my living room, before bed, falling on two little paintings made my someone I dated briefly more than six years ago…
… being driven to working at my kitchen island by the ferocious sunlight I get late afternoons at this time of year, which makes me sweat like a sausage in a sauna, and which finally prompted me to place an order for expensive custom blinds. An efficient, on time, well-groomed little guy with a ladder came and measured, complimented me on the accuracy of my initial estimates. But I’m still reduced to my countertop until they arrive.
After several days of my narrowly spaced life, I was itching for a change of scene, so decided to take myself out for dinner. I got all tarted up for my little self-date, showering and lipsticking and everything, and picked up a book, and the gift certificate I got from my sister for my birthday… and found myself in an eddy of Toronto FC fans, all ready to sit in a freezing stadium and watch a match with Mexico, occupying every table in my neighbourhood. I got Very Grumpy in a First World Problems type of way, and ended up making asparagus, wild sockeye and risotto.
I ate too much risotto while watching competitors on Top Chef Canada make inedible food on my macbook, puzzling at why the judges didn’t seem to think salmon was appropriate for a bbq. Guess they’ve never been to BC.
The pattern when I’m alone doesn’t have a lot of shifting parts — work, wandering around in the evening trying to relax, food, exercise, a steady stream of little self rewards. I think of visiting Haworth in February, the Bronte sisters “pacing around” a small table in a tiny, cramped parlour, wind insistent around them, finding worlds in the imagined space between them. So much in that tiny space. So much transformed in really very few decades. I wonder why I can’t create more in the evenings, notice things anew, the desire for something Bigger funneled down to good risotto, appreciation of a good le creuset pot, deep appreciation of my bed. When screens are your workday, and then are your connection point, and entertainment, the portals into the endless global world paradoxically hem me in.