Gaining some interim understanding of everything we have just seen and experienced is important, especially as pressure mounts to get a job and rejoin the race. But we’re still traveling, right? Still shacked up for weeks at a time, still living out of bags. Until we land in Colorado. Or Kentucky. Or Arizona. Or Belize. There is still an uncertain and empty road ahead of us.
In fact, our prospects change daily and, here in this house on Long Island, we occasionally manage to get organized before falling back into piles and general disarray. I do succeed in completing a few important tasks, like re-registering the rat and buying blue jeans at the thrift store (I got dem “Post-trip-I-ate-so-much-rice-in-Africa-and- never-exercised Blues”). But getting back in the swing of things is something we still haven’t completely embraced.
Besides, if we don’t organize these photos now, they’ll never get done, right? So instead of sending out book proposals, query letters, and clips, as a writer looking for a paycheck should, I immerse myself in images. For ridiculous periods of time, I sit cross-legged on a clean den carpet amid thousands of photos; they stuff boxes and envelopes and sprawl in all directions. They are my hollow, two-dimensional attempt to re-create the past 15 months. In lieu of that, at least I can sequence a few hundred shots in plastic-coated albums; something to help tell so many stories yet to be distilled.
Though it is tedious to inspect, arrange, and edit 13,000 images (3,000 prints and slides, the rest digital), it is also an easy project in which to lose myself, especially at night. These faces and colors and lights and moods I have not seen in a long time. Traveling back to temples and ruins and friends and sunrises is, surprise-surprise, more enjoyable than doing taxes, calling the loan company, or sorting through a year’s worth of bank statements.
Better to retreat to the couch with a year’s worth of missed magazines, which are, because of their sheer mass, too much of a good thing, like all these photos. My brother Todd, contributes a custom illustration for the cover of our first completed album of the trip: Pakistan and India (no, you can’t digitally flip through the pages, this is just a link to the cover).