Late last night, I left Portland, OR and took a red-eye flight home to the East Coast after a short-lived but much appreciated visit with this month’s chapter writer Gabe DellaVecchia.
I had put this cross-country trip off for too long. It seemed never a good time to go, but I had promised Gabe that I would visit him and his wife Makie, before they left this city that they love so much. So I decided to follow through, even in the midst of balancing my family obligations and non-profit day job duties. I am really glad I went. Even coming off a full night of no sleep and bouncing on and off planes, I am returning feeling ready to take on the rest of this month’s challenges. Sometimes all it takes for me to re-center is being around someone and sharing with one who really knows me.
Spending time with Gabe these past few days has been like exploring a time capsule I buried 17 years ago. He is one of the few players in Living Chapters that has actually witnessed nearly half of my life and all of the choices I have made. He knows me so well that he remembers some things more vividly and accurately than I could conjure myself.
“Oh really, I created a series of curtain and cloud photographs lying on the roof of the apartment building we use to live in? …Oh yeah, I guess I did do that…”
He has a photographic memory, but since I’ve known him, hasn’t really spent time making any photographs. Unlike myself, who has framed and photographed a lifetime of moments as an attempt at remembering all the people places and stories that continue to stockpile in the storage unit in my brain. I’m not that old yet, but the memories are starting to fade – I need a system upgrade and fast!
Making this trip to the west coast was not the only thing I have been putting off. After chatting with Gabe about the reasoning behind his July homework assignment, I realized that it has been seven years since I even talked about trying to start this “online portfolio”. Seven years had passed and I still have not done this? In 2005, I had gotten as far as scanning my photographic artwork and requesting a friend to design a website for me. We made it half way through before I got lost in another all-encompassing project and ran out of energy and web design funds and threw in the towel. Even though I am intimidated with Gabe’s task, we both agreed, it, like my visit to Portland, was long overdue.
Portland itself was fantastic. I am not able to go into how much I really enjoyed the people, food, mentality, feel and layout of the city because that would be a different blog entry altogether but let’s just say I’ll definitely be back and endorse the city full-heartedly. The thing I enjoyed most though was just being around my good friend.
It was the first time in years that we were able to really catch up and update each other in person on where we had landed on the map currently and on all the uncertainties and waypoints that lay ahead.
I feel more comfortable comparing notes with Gabe than anyone else on the constant set of transitions that make up my life. He is my only friend who has made an equal amount or more life choices and transitions into unchartered territory than anyone else I know. I am constantly impressed with his ability to reinvent himself and land on his feet in new situations.
This fact didn’t really sink in though until I started flipping through his masterfully organized “scrap books” that he has been compiling of his life’s work and path. As he mentioned earlier, Gabe secured a job in Denver and found little need to put together an online portfolio. Most of his career evidence is not visual and he was not in need of a job any longer. However, he is in need of making his load lighter on move day so decided to scrap together the mounds of evidence collected from his past endeavors into what are now 8 very large 3 ring binders.
I was blown away after exploring a few of them. It was like looking through an encyclopedia of Gabe’s existence from A-Z or in this case from birth to the present day. They began with his elementary days leading up to his 35th year and 357th job in Denver Colorado. On these hundreds of plastic wrapped pages you’ll find a path of papers and meticulously handwritten long notations. His traveling road starts with a high school trips to Russia and New Zealand and surprising leads him to college years in the suburbs of Baltimore City, a plethora of indie rock concerts, an ice cream parlor/beauty salon, a South African village, many Hollywood movies accountants offices, and a hot air balloon ride over Angkor Watt. (to name just a few of the random stops along the way)
To tell you the truth, I was overwhelmed looking through volume one. I was greatly impressed with the time, care, and details that were put into his handy work. (and a bit inspired!) These books are tactile personal and meaningful not something that I believe that can be achieved with a website. They guided me down the windy rocky road showing me exactly how he found his way from the suburbs of New Jersey to where he is today.
I was amazed and touched by the amount of detail and context in his books, and am honestly both a bit relieved and sad that I am not taking this route of scrapping together all the minutes and moments of my life in books. For me, the tactile scrapping is much more my style and the more enjoyable method. There is something to the actual cut and paste that I love oh so much more than the clicks on the keyboard.
I am thankful though that I am not piecing together the puzzle of my entire life this month. It may be taking me extra long hours on the computer building and editing my online resume but luckily I have been given the online visual express route from college years until now. So check in if you want and see that I have somehow made my second deadline of getting all basic descriptions of all projects up!
Phase one done! Phase two begins tomorrow – 10 years and 10,0000 pictures. Here we go.
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Highlights from my visit with Gabe:
Our visit to “Scrap” the best recycled reused craft/school supply place ever.
Going through Gabe’s Scrap books.
Portland trip theme song from the Maestro: Swim Until You Can’t See Land
For more highlights from Portland visit Facebook Portland album: Including research for the Wild Card Response at Powell’s book store and the joy of returning to the Jump Rope Journal
Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about.