“Processing” takes a much more visceral meaning when you’re literally waiting for a roll of film to develop. I’ve never really known a time when photography wasn’t instantaneous; I mean, I do remember those days, but they didn’t effect me personally. The gap between holiday and photo album was like the cash my father drove to retrieve from a robot in the wall—someone else’s magic trick.
We’ve all been processing something very heavy and very large in the past few months. It rolled in like a summer storm and it just sat there, covering everything with the acid rain of fear and anger and despair; we tried to burn it clean in the glorious sunshine but the stench of it all had already seeped into our bones.
I didn’t expect to be feeling any of that when we set off on a road trip I’d been envisioning for quite some time, and for the most part, I managed to feel nothing but joy and gratitude. I’ll have more to say about that in the coming weeks, in fact. But there’s no escaping this looming darkness even on the brightest of days.
The canary in the coal mine isn’t your typical red-capped maga-maniac or your bootlicking gun-nut; it’s the mild-mannered elementary school teacher who has, for all practical purposes, lived a comfortable center-left to center-right life, but is now so blue-pilled that even the word “love” seems coded and suspect in their eyes.
“Fear is your only god.” I saw these words going viral the other day, bringing to stark light the many unprocessed conversations I had in our time away. Processing—it’s not a metaphor. At one point I choked on my literal bile for the pain of these conversations. No, there are no figures of speech left in this darkness. The tricks have been exposed; the problems are all our own.
I took a lot of photos on my road trip and I have many stories I want to share. But the images most seared into my mind are the ones I cannot capture or circulate. So it’s only fitting that we’d find ourselves swept up in this beautiful crowd when we returned to Seattle; some things just can’t be expressed—they can only be witnessed and absorbed.