I’m ready to move on from Florida. The weather has been beautiful. Bathing suits and bike rides in January is amazing. But even while living on the road I cannot sit still in one spot for too long. Although I am sure there is much more to see, I am ready to breathe mountain air. Ready to peek over cliffs, encounter new travelers, be somewhere I haven't been before. It has also been raining for two straight days so I may or may not be pouting.
It has been challenging to switch my brain from finding inspiration behind landscapes or objects versus human interaction. I am feeling stagnant among the palm trees. Even when I was out feeding sea turtles I was more tempted to photograph the young child with his father versus the turtles. However I am pushing myself to still be creative and make images I feel proud of, even if the subjects are not what I desire, the practice will still generate growth and I continuously want to improve and be better.
Having Vlad here makes people friendlier. He just looks cool, so I think people think that I am cool because I am hanging out with him. People are more approachable and don’t seem to give me as much as a hard time if I am taking pictures or wandering past No Trespassing signs. No matter how free and open my heart is, I can’t seem to get past the “basic bitch” image, but he softens that for me, makes it feel more like I can walk my own path without judgement.
When traveling in a van you encounter a lot of other people living on the road as well. Either at gas stations or rest stops, and the Wal-Marts. Wal-Mart actually allows cars and RV's to park overnight in their lots, so you will notice a lot of travelers towards the back. One morning we woke up in a Wal-Mart Parking lot and observed four young people, a very large dog and some sort of rodent all crawling out of a mini-van. We eyed each other up and then went on our separate ways.
Later that night in Miami, walking through a festival Vlad recognized the same four kids and their dog coming towards us, thankfully they recognized us too. We stopped to talk for a bit about their journey. They had been out for nine months and were funding their trip by selling necklaces and bracelets they would make. The leader of the pack asked Vlad "how do you guys fund your trip?" Vlad nodded my way and said "She's a photographer." To which we got a short "oh." Clearly not impressed.
I will say that I do feel like a bit of a poser when I meet friends like this. Like I make as much money as your parents and I live in a van because I think it's cool. Not because it's my last option or because I don't have anywhere else to go. I have a home, a car, and steady income back in Michigan. These kids are cooking Ramen noodles off of their engine and Vlad and I just spent $50 on street food and beer. I can't seem to get them off my mind, this morning I woke up telling Vlad I wished we would have given them something, we should have bought them a case of beer, an elephant ear, something. I did give them my contact info, and they plan to be in New Orleans the same time we are, so fingers crossed our paths will meet again.
Miami did seem to have a magic to it, despite my current feeling of boredom towards Florida. The camera batteries in the Nikon and Fuji died so I was left with just my words to store the memories. I told Vlad I want to remember these moments always. There is a fine line as a photographer to just live in the moment and not feel the need to capture it and keep it on your hard drive for forever.
But I really did just want to remember how I felt spending all day and night on the beach. How our lips were so salty and our legs burned from the 8 miles of walking the full length of South Beach over and over again. How the warm air felt and the wind whipping the sand on my bare legs. How very content I was in those moments and satisfied I felt. Not thinking about the next day or week, just happy to be holding hands and sipping vodka out of a water bottle. It's the feeling that I hoped for, one that I work towards, to just be present. For brief moments to feel still. My heart will forever be wild but anxiety will for sure be the death of me. Finally feeling calm and relaxed, I know it won't last, but I will appreciate it while I can.