It started as a trip to go and pack up the remainder of my childhood from my mother’s basement and it turned into a passion. It was 2001 and the Seattle tech boom was in the midst of its "tech bust" and I found myself volunteering for "the package" before the inevitable layoff. At the same time, my mother was packing up and selling the house I grew up in. No more excuses; it was time to retrieve.
But if I was going to take the time to drive from Seattle to Green Bay, why not make a road trip out of it? I had just started photography school and maybe I could take my camera. Well, if I was going to take my camera . . . My story weaves its own particular route; kind of like the story of the couple who buy a new couch that doesn’t quite fit the room and after a little conversation decide to buy a new house to fit the new couch. (It does make sense when you track the entire conversation.)
So, there I was with a one-way ticket to Portland Maine, a rental car waiting for me at the airport, and four weeks to get back to Seattle. I had a pseudo-plan and lots of maps. My points of interest were historic sites. The monuments, memorials, and battlegrounds that are the fabric of our lives. Why? I can honestly say "I haven't a clue." But at the time it seemed like a thing to do.
And so off I went. Boston, Lexington, Concorde, Washington D.C., Manteo NC, Gettysburg, Appomattox Courthouse. . . I haven't stopped. It fascinates me.
A tree in Gettysburg stands as a mute survivor of three days of brutal and bloody battle. A grand marble edifice marks the spot where two humble men from Ohio made the first successful flight. It's simple message: "Genius." The Statue of Liberty stands witness to the tens of thousands who came to our shores looking for a new life.
Watching people react and interact with these places is even more intriguing. Listening to tour guides come up with anecdotes, many not historically accurate, draws us in. This helps us relate to time and place foreign to our modern day selves.
And what is the truth? Who are the historians, the documenters and interpreters of our history? Are they the creators or observers of events or are they the scholars that follow? Who deems that an event will lie in state within the walls of a monument? And who will quietly decide that the story simply be locked within the souls of those who bore witness?
My quest continues. All these years later and I am still visiting those stone relics, observing the observers, and having the time of my life.