This week’s challenge asks us to share images where lines and shapes converge in literal or abstract ways. Because my pictures are part of a larger story with the same theme, I’ve written a photo essay tying the two together.
Shortly before leaving Massachusetts I had cataracts removed so during the winter of 2010 I was primed to read a really meaty novel. I came across an online review of a 2008 English translation of “Dead Souls”, written by Nikolai Gogol in 1842, widely considered the first of the great Russian novels and one of the indisputable masterpieces of world literature.
After reading a few chapters online, I decided the book was a keeper, ordered a copy and read nonstop for 3 weeks. Such a fantastic novel I HAD to discuss it with someone! I found an online book discussion forum where I left the following post: “Anyone want to talk about Gogol’s Dead Souls? Email me!”
Three weeks passed before someone reached into my backyard from a street in Moscow:
After a spirited discussion of the book, we communicated randomly for a year about James Baxter’s science fiction. Somewhere in year 2 we began sharing occasional news stories about Obama and Putin and having intellectual debates about socialism vs capitalism and the “New Russia.” Year 3: “Have you studied Latin?”( “of course!”) which opened up new conversations about Ovid, The Metamorphoses, and Latin as the building block of our native tongues. Great intellectual stuff and I began thinking “man, this guy has one helluva mind,” and on it went to year 4.
When I returned from England in September, I saw he had messaged me (something new!!) so I turned on my smartphone notifications should it occur again. A week later it pinged as I was heading to bed. I said I was just back from a trip and we had our first personal conversation about impressions of Europe, what we liked and didn’t like about it, etc. 5 hours later I finally said goodnight and went to bed as the sun was coming up!
The following weekend we began flipping photos back and forth…not of ourselves but of what we were doing at particular times to see how life differed. (Note: Hovering your mouse over all photos reveals captions)
I’m at the Farmer’s Market!
I’m in MacDonald’s!
At the beach!
At the bar!
Sunrise, Vero Beach!
In my yard!
At a friend’s house!
The practice of showing each other where we were at given moments in time seemed a surprisingly close approximation of running into someone for a few seconds at the store or on a subway platform. “What’s up?” “Where you headed?” “How ’bout that weather?” “Talk later!” A few days into this, the first actual phone call came from Moscow…and a few days later a Skype call. For kids brought up on opposite sides of the Cold War, seeing inside each other’s homes via webcam has been a strange and exhilarating convergence!
One day he “brought me along on his commute” via a series of photos that work particularly well for this challenge. Before I close, one final gallery:
Until next time….
:) :) :)