Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Decatur


I often get caught-up in playing catch-up. While it's true that the weeks have a tendency to fly-by here (the days - not always so much), I do end-up seeing and doing far too many things to comment properly on them on a daily basis. For example, this past weekend was spent Saturday at Everland and Sunday at a brunch in Gangnam before heading to the Lotus Lantern Festival - something we missed-out on last year. There's a lot to talk about and a lot of photos to post.

I guess what I'm saying is that for me - trying to chronicle everything I do and see here would leave me precious little time for sleep. What brought this to my mind today was two things - loading photos from our trip to Cambodia this past November, and a song.

Going back though these photos, I considered many things:

1) Should I load these photos onto facebook so that more of my friends can see them? Most people don't bother to drag themselves through the thousands of photos I post on flickr. I don't blame them. There are photos there that I have whittled down to a third of what I took, and I could easily take that number down to a more palatable amount if pressed. But, loading them to another site would be an exercise in frustration, I'm sure, though it is perhaps a good way to see what I would choose to eliminate should I ever have to force 600 photos into say 60.

2) I remember things so clearly from these images. I guess I don't really need them all, but going through them, flipping through my guidebook to the temples to remind myself of some names, and just spending time trying to remember what it felt like to be there made me realize that the memories are likely going to feel very fresh for a long time. I'm glad of that.

3) I am starting to feel that I need to travel more. Yes, my contract will be coming to an end in just under a year, but already it's difficult for me to consider a reality where I don't travel, or spend significant amounts of time overseas in the future.

I loaded about 60 photos tonight, and will plan on doing so again - a few a night - until they are all up. I do realize that these photos are mostly for me. It's a lot to ask that anyone would be more than mildly interested in seeing that many photos of places they've never been, or have relation to through their own experience. Still, I go through the photos I've taken, add a description, and throw them up on flickr. Have a gander of you care to. There should be new ones almost daily until I've caught-up. Check them out if you wish, and I promise in turn that I will be ruthless in cutting the unnecessary ones.

The other thing that brought about thoughts of travel, well... not just travel, but also family, time passing, and all of that other heady stuff, was a song. I haven't been listening to a lot of new music lately, but I have been going through my itunes library of over 7000 songs and rediscovering some goodies.

One that popped-up today has got to be one of my favourite songs of recent memory. I first heard it, or perhaps really listened to it, for the first time while Stephanie and I were crossing from Koh Samui to Surat Thani in Thailand this past November.

It was raining. We had just said goodbye to Shannon and Andrew - two of our friends from the previous year of teaching in Korea - and we were approaching a very foreign landscape on a boat - things I'm fond of in general.

I'm sure it was a combination of things: our conversation with Shannon and Andrew revolving partly around the randomness of our connection - Andrew from Florida, Shannon from Toronto, Steph and I from Calgary - meeting in Korea and now sharing a porch in Thailand with mosquito coils doing their best to clear the air and four people doing their best to comprehend what goodbye means under such circumstances.

It was also the fact that I had walked-out onto the deck of the ferry - far away form the hum of the rear engines, and the hordes of people hanging below and out of the rain. The front deck, as I remember it, was painted a thick white - perhaps painted-over ten or more times. The air was thick and humid as air in Thailand always is - whether it's raining or not. And the land we were closing in on seemed... I don't know... I want to say "aware", but that's not quite right.

Anyway, the song that played in my headphones as we approached was by Sufjan Stevens. The song that played is called "Decatur, or, round of applause for your step mother", and if you'd like to see a nifty little fan video of it, just click here.

It's redundant to add that the song clearly has nothing to do with Thailand, though it likely has a lot to do with Stevens' own experience. It's about awkward family encounters, regret, anticipation, civil war skeletons rising to thank the memory of a great leader, and somehow inspiring the song writer to pen a jaunty little banjo tune with haunting harmonies that gives a too-late thank you to someone who tried to connect.

Like I said - very little to do with Thailand, but at the time I heard it, it had everything to do with me standing alone on the deck of a ferry as we approached in foul weather a nearly empty dock, to soon board a bus that would take us somewhere else. It's the somewhere else that I'm thinking about when I hear the song tonight, so I thought I'd take a moment to write about the idea - as ill-defined as it is. Whenever I hear this song, this is the moment it brings to mind for me - a moment that can't be summed up but can be approximated with words like: indecision, acceptance, longing, and inevitable. Contradictory as all hell, I know, but that's what it is.

Ultimately, as an update on my update, I've decided that I may never properly blog in a cohesive sense about my time away, or time at home. It really seems like a bit of a chore. What doesn't seem like a chore at all is simply taking the time to think about things past, present and soon to be. It's all related, I suppose.



1 comment:

Dana said...

Yipee! More photos! I love the photos - keep 'em coming! I would love to hear more about your experiences in Cambodia.