I began this journey the simple way. The way that all journeys should start, with one foot put in front of the other, with small wheels turning, with the expectation of adventure and experience.
I packed a small camera, one without many settings and options, and I used a trusted, simple, honest film. I took pictures of the street where I lived and of the paths I walked that first week. It was good to get out. It was good to get it out.
The end of the journey comes as something simple as well. In fact, as the simplest kind of photography there is, the kind where all you do is press one button and you hold the finished product in your hand. I’d taken a few instant photos here and there throughout the year, but they never made it into one of my official rolls. Whenever I shot a pack, I gave most of the pictures away. I had created an image, but I didn’t have anything to prove it anymore. These photos were fleeting, flighty. They were ephemeral.
With this pack of Polaroid Spectra film, it wasn’t much different. I shot most of it at my brother’s birthday party in September. Then I put the camera back on the shelf. There weren’t too many pictures still left in this pack.
After I had moved to my new apartment, Carrie and I explored its surroundings. We had done similar exploration many times during our weekends in Cologne when I already lived there and she still called Munich home and was just a visitor. We now had new places to see for the first time. There was a bridge across the Rhine, far downriver from the ones we had crossed before. We walked to the other side, and we walked back again. And on that bridge, I took a photo. It showed the city as it was that dreary day. The river was broad and slow moving, and the ships plowed through its molassses, their bows, it seemed, sinking deeper and deeper into it.
I took a photo that showed my new home. My new place in life, and in the world. And when we came home, I took a second one, the view over the city out of our kitchen window. The imperfect film gave the images an eerie look, as if there was fog hanging over the world that covered it and let no thoughts and memories pass through, and would recede only when you had finally gotten a clearer grasp on the future. Yet, what future can be known?
It is a month after 2015 ended. I have arrived. I had been thinking of a quote for the past few days, but I could never recall it in complete. Yet I knew exactly what feelings it harbored, what emotions it conveyed. Only now, that I am done with this project, it suddenly came to me. It was T. S. Eliot I had been thinking of, lines from Little Gidding:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
This roll, then, is not a roll at all. It is two images out of 8, two out of an infinity possible. They were taken of home and at home, and they leave me here, where I rest for a while. And then I begin the next journey.
P.S.: I will post a “best of” of my 52 rolls of 2015 in the coming days, and some musings about the lessons learned along the way. So I’m not quite finished yet.