Create: The Days Before

We dropped south from France after a week at the Visa Pour L’Image Festival our souls soothed with the best of the best who frame the world through little squares and rectangles. Drop the car in Marseille and pick up another in Casablanca. Four thousand miles of the unknown were ahead. A paper map and a Fiat Uno with no air conditioning.

A print found during the move.

Four of us. All creative, traveling together but still apart, as creatives need to be. Up early, up late, together, apart again. Mountains, dust, rivers of sand and the flavor that only North Africa can provide. I run into someone I photographed in the United States, a Muslim scholar. “Do you want to see something you would never be able to see on your own?” he asked. “Yes, yes we would.” Deeper into the souk we go until we can go no deeper. And we photograph.

I was single when I made this image. But days later I would not be. Our lives were simple. There was less money, more time and more freedom to live alone and connected in the human way. This was pre pixel. Pre-screen and we had no idea how good we had it. Nights were about gathering, talking, sharing or just observing our fellow humans. Dust storms, sickness, and unrelenting heat but overwhelmed by the positive of tajine, the comedic error of travel and wanting to know what lives at the end of the tracks.

Early morning on the beach, a proposal that catches her by surprise. “What?” she asked with a puzzled look. “Do you want to do it?” I ask. “Here, on the sand, with people around?” she replies. “No, no, not that, get married I mean,” I reply. A pause, a smile, and a nod.

The White City welcomes us back. A chance encounter. A trade is made, my t-shirt for a Moroccan wedding ring. The vendor has no idea of the vows exchanged minutes before. Fate, perhaps. These were the “where do you want to go?” days. Time and schedules, yes, but loose and kind.

On the flight home, I knock on the cockpit door. It opens. “Hey, can I shoot a Polaroid in the cockpit?” I ask. “Sure, come on in,” the pilot says. I miss this place and I miss this time. And she is still with me.

38 Comments on “Create: The Days Before”

    1. Hey Hannah,
      She wont’ leave. No matter what I do. I don’t get it. She is, truly, the better half.

  1. WOW, such a great Story!

    „ Our lives were simple. There was less money, more time and more freedom…“ so true. Reminds me of my first trip from Home (Germany) to South France when I was 18. Removed the back seat of my Kia Pride so we had more space for tents and stuff. No AC, the car was slow as f…k. No worries about anything…

    Thank you for the memories…

    1. Daniel,
      Kia! Even better. It is odd to think back, positive mostly, and also allows us to question “progress.”

  2. One of your best posts! Insightful, romantic, fun, beautifully sublime and a touch of melancholic longing. I miss those times too—carefree, not knowing what’s beyond the curve, analogue, dialogue, transforming… I love you guys and I miss you both!!!

    1. Lawrence,
      I can only IMAGINE what your days back then were like. I imagine Paul Bowles style without all the bags! Maybe he said it best when he talked about the difference between a traveler and a tourist. Yes, this summer, if all goes well, we should voyage somewhere. Make things.

  3. It was a camp ground a thousand miles from home. I was heading west. She was heading east. A night of sitting around a camp fire, a morning climbing a mountain and then we parted. Three weeks later I was back home and looked her up. One week later we decided to get married. 43 years later “and she is still with me”.

    I too miss those days but even now, surrounded by fear and anxiety, your post prompts me not to just remember the past but to celebrate the great joy that is life.

    1. Paul,
      Holy shit. Great, great story. You must be halfway decent or maybe she I half crazy? Both? Congratulations. 43 is serious time. I’m in awe. And yes, one look outside and it should remind us of how great things are.

  4. “On the flight home, I knock on the cockpit door. It opens. “Hey, can I shoot a Polaroid in the cockpit?” I ask. “Sure, come on in,” the pilot says. I miss this place and I miss this time. ”

    I miss those days too. I flew back from Australia yesterday and shortly after landing genuinely found myself wishing for an ‘old’ wristwatch that I could wind back to the correct time zone instead of faffing about trying to sync the one I have to my bloody iPhone.

    1. Sean,
      I just got out my Seiko! Solar. I’ve been wearing my Garmin but realize I only need it when I’m running, biking and even then I really don’t need it.

  5. What a lovely story, thank you for sharing it with us. I love the photograph too: looks like Marrakesh. ?? I love that you found the print during the move. Some photographs gain in importance over time. Some become precious.

    Great start to the day! Thanks again.

    1. Mike,
      You got it. The famous plaza in the center. Quite a place. I proposed on the coast, further south, but we did an entire 4000 mile loop.

  6. A great story and I hope you both have many great memories together in years to come.

    I think the key thing here is that you found a print during your move. Not a USB stick or hard-drive, a actual print. With the crazy situation the world is in today, now more than ever we should all make sure photos of our loved ones are printed in whatever form you see fit. Just get them off your hard-drive and onto something you can hold and feel.

    1. Paul,
      You have NO idea. I have SO many prints I am attempting to figure out what to do with them all. Just portraits alone I have so many my shelves are sagging.

  7. It was a phone call from a friend, asking me to bail him out of a promise made to one of his exes. A blind date. Need to speak to her first before committing. Hours of conversation and then she brought the occasional table. Seven months later we were married at dawn, outside. 16 hours later we’re in our Jamaican hotel collapsed on the bed, exhausted from the whirlwind day. 28 years later still together, now alone, kids grown, still holding hands. My favorite print is one from film days, on a Lake Michigan beach in winter, she’s bundled up from the cold, wearing a green beret and that radiant smile…

    1. Mark,
      Geez, I want to live in your life for a while. Sounds incredible. And congrats on sticking together. And Lake Michigan in winter is no joke.

  8. Beautiful story and a lovely photo. Elegiac and moving, and I’m grateful you shared both your image and your words. I miss those days as well.

    It seems as if the more expensive the wedding ring, the shorter the marriage (in my experience). I bought a $150 ring with a diamond that polite people said was very discreet. When I went my knees in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris to propose, she didn’t seem to mind much. Luckily, she said yes. That was almost exactly 31 years ago. No one is more surprised than I that she puts up with me still.

    Best wishes for many more rich and happy years for you and your wife.

    1. Hey Tim,
      Thanks for that. Hey, that t-shirt was priceless! The Moroccan wedding ring is a site to behold. I actually kept the original, then had two cast in downtown LA. Still didn’t cost much.

  9. Loved this. Read it to myself and then again to my mom. Thank you for sharing your story. I also read about your Lyme, freaking nuts! Anyway, be well. Sending love from Boston Town.

    1. Hey Jessica,

      LONG time. Wow. Hope you are well and same for your family. Ya, Lyme was and is a battle. Lucky me!

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