Tuesday, March 22, 2011

train of thought

I've been spending quite a bit of time on trains lately. In New York City!

Yes, I had me a little bit of a holiday and a whole lotta great times. My friend Jamie and I ate and drank our way through the French Quarter of New Orleans, then through as much of NYC as we could in the time we had left. I took pictures of the inside of trains, but I didn't take one picture of anything we ate. I think this is a good thing.

Early in Julie Delpy's 2007 film Two Days in Paris, Delpy (as Marion) laments that the European holiday she has just taken with her partner Jack was experienced almost entirely through the lense of their camera. As Jack forces Marion to reenact Brando in Last Tango in Paris on the bridge, her voiceover narrates that 'taking pictures all the time turns you into an observer. It automatically takes you out of the moment.' I love taking pictures, but I think there's something in this. On the Staten Island ferry I saw - and became one of - those tourists who watch Manhattan grow bigger and bigger through their little viewfinder as the boat moves closer and closer to the city. It was fun, but I'm so glad that I didn't spend the whole trip looking through a tiny rectangle.

Instead, the best pictures I have of this trip are in my head, hazy and embellished and absolutely inspiring. I can see that gumbo we were served by that nice-looking waiter with the to-die for Southern drawl, all soupy and rich with its sprinkle of white rice sinking through the top. From the pictures in my head I'll learn how to blacken fish and chicken and I'll perfect a recipe for spicy okra stewed with tomatoes. I'll boil another batch of bagels and they'll mean even more than they did last time cause they'll remind me of the miniature ones we ate each morning in Brooklyn. And these three words together - coconut, cream, pie - after a long, late night at the Great Jones Cafe with Emma, conjure something infinitely more sublime than a picture taken in that dark little bar could ever have expressed.

So there'll be more photographs - and recipes! - soon. But for now, I'm using my jet lag as an excuse to relax and sink into the photo album in my mind that I built on a truly wonderful trip.

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