Looking for the freedom train

  • Aperture: f/9.5
  • Focal Length: 46mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter: 1/160 sec
  • Camera: NIKON D1H

Columbus, Mississippi

I’m tired and frustrated. Out of sorts, out of kilter, out of balance. Like a scarlet skein of blood-red yarn, I’m spinning farther and farther from my center. Days like these seem common now, chasing one another’s heels with gleeful, pell-mell abandon, riotous children that won’t be sated.

The weather is warm, and I’m a muddle of wildness. I think about the licorice-straight ribbon of blacktop that leads from here to Columbus, and I remember the smoky chill in the air, a fine hoarfrost mingling with brandy on my tongue. Hot streaking through my cold, I’m a tangle of contrasts. I want to be alone; I’m miserably lonely. I want to give the site up; I can’t stop thinking about the early days when it was the one thing that made me happy. I want to give up shooting; I want to prowl this train again and shoot until I can’t see straight. I want to stop writing; I want to find the story that makes me dizzy with desire.

I love and loathe in all the same breath. Sometimes I think I don’t breathe at all anymore. I always seem to be caught, a moth trapped in gossamer, waiting. I miss shoots like the Columbus project — brief flashes of intense work — over and done before I have time to doubt myself. Writing is more ponderous, plodding. I have too many hours to analyze it, fear it, rip it to shreds. Photography is a different beast altogether, and while it comes with its own sharp teeth, the bite is different.

There’s a savage gypsy girl inside, growing more and more cage-weary by the minute. I want to run barefoot through grassy fields, spill wine I can’t afford over pearls that aren’t mine. I’m tired of being inside all day. I’m tired of winter, with its slate-drenched mornings and chalk-white afternoons. I’m tired of being told what to do, as if I don’t have a perfectly good mind of my own. I’m tired of holding back, reining in, walking a narrow line of acceptable behavior. I’m tired of doing the safe thing, the right thing, the good thing, the honorable thing.

Maybe I’m coming unraveled. Maybe I’m losing my mind. Then again, maybe I’m just tired of being wrapped up in a neat little predictable ball.

Music: I Don’t Want to Be by Gavin DeGraw (lyrics)

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