I leaned up against a gut-high table on the second floor of a bar in Manhattan.  The room was packed full of people I admire, celebrating a landmark event with adult beverages and camaraderie.  The glass of water I held made my hand as cold as the ice floating inside it, while everything else slowly danced around me and I felt like I was standing there isolated in my thoughts. 

After over thirty trips to New York City, it’s still one of my favorite places to visit.  That hasn’t changed.  But for some reason, this latest trip had me completely disenchanted.  The beauty and character was in my blind spot.  All I could see was the excess and vanity, the never-ending cement and asphalt, the piles of garbage on the sidewalks. 

I stared out the window at the white clouds that peppered the blue sky during the entire flight home, thinking about nothing in particular.  I was just happy to be putting miles between the biggest city in America and me.

The wheels touched down and I headed home to my little piece of Minneapolis.  I stayed long enough for a shower and to check-in at work, before dumping my bag out in the laundry and refilling it with fresh clothes. 

I tossed the Vera Bradley duffle in the back of my car and opened the door so my dog could ride shotgun.  I slipped into the drivers seat and pointed my car towards the interstate. 

The sky grayed as I cruised north, the city skyline in my rearview mirror got smaller with every mile and the number of buildings decreased simultaneously with the daylight.  Before I knew it, I was gliding through the countryside with the only light coming from the headlamps on my car.    I felt relief when my tires turned off the asphalt and onto the dirt road that led to my cabin.  In less than twelve hours I had gone from one extreme to another. 

As I made my way back into Minneapolis this afternoon, I realized I was simply trying to regain my sense of balance. 

I smiled as I pulled up to my house, knowing I had. 

Just Flow With It, Part 2

I made my way to row six at the JFK departure area to check-in for my flight.

“What do you mean it’s delayed?” a woman was screaming at the ticket agent behind the counter.

I walked up to the next agent and handed him my I.D.

“We have a delay this morning,” he told me.

“I heard,” I replied with a smile, cocking my head to the right at the other woman.  He laughed and handed me my boarding pass.

I’m never one to get angry in those situations.  Frustrated, maybe, but I never take it out on anyone at the airport.  It’s not their fault that a passenger a thousand miles away caused an evacuation, delaying flights.

I made my way through the very familiar process of going through security, where I’ve perfected the art of taking off shoes, removing laptops and liquids from bags and taking off jackets at 900 mph.  Don’t worry hurried businessman behind me, I got this. 

I strolled down to my gate and it was packed.  There was an international flight getting ready to board with hundreds of people crammed into the small waiting area.  I glanced at the monitor and noticed my flight was still two hours out, so I took a stroll to the end of the end of gate A and dropped my bags on the floor in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows that gave a breathtaking view of the runways.  This was my favorite part of the airport.

I thought to myself how cool it would be if the space shuttle Enterprise landed on one of the runways in front of me, as I knew it was doing a flyover of the city today on it’s way to a military hanger at JFK.  But I reassured myself the chances were small, this was a big airport with a lot of windows.  Over the next hour, though, more and more people joined me at the windows, including about a dozen TSA agents.  I was happy I stayed put, feet planted firmly on the floor and arms resting against the railing along the window bank. I had my chin on my arms and must have looked like an overgrown kid with wide eyes.

“There it is!” shouted one of the agents in a thick east coast accent.  Everyone packed in closer to the glass.

I could see the large plane flying low far out in the distance.  Two NYPD helicopters hovered right over where we were standing.  The plane got closer and closer.  We all had cell phones out, waiting to snap a photo of history.  As it approached the runway to our right, you could see the Space Shuttle Enterprise riding triumphantly on the plane’s back, getting larger and larger as it zoomed in for it’s final landing.

With a rumble it whizzed by us, escorted by a smaller jet.  The crowd of people ran down the gate to catch another glimpse.  I saw one woman jump a row of chairs like it was a hurdle on a track.  I laughed to myself, thoroughly enjoying the moment and pulling up the photos I had snapped on my phone to see if they had turned out.

If the incident in Minneapolis hadn’t delayed my flight out of NYC, I never would have experienced that.  And that’s why I don’t get mad at situations I have no control over.  You never know where that change in events may lead you…

Just Flow With It

I had plans to go for a nice leisurely walk with my dog right after work, before cooking a nice meal and curling up with a movie.  It’s my favorite way to spend a Friday night and I had been looking forward to unwinding all day.

Those plans changed, though, when I got stuck at work for an extra couple of hours.  As frustrating as that was in the moment, I’m thankful it happened.  Because if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have witnessed this glorious sunset from just the perfect spot. 

Take a Breath

With white buds nestled into the sides of my head and the familiar white cord connected to the iPhone in my pocket, I stepped onto the pavement that trailed around the three mile perimeter of Lake Harriet.  The song I’ve been obsessively listening to all week poured into my ears and I slid my shades over my eyes.

Everything around me disappeared and I fell deep into thought as I moved one step at a time around the body of fresh water.  I remembered the first day I set foot on these trails.  It was the start of a life changing journey to rid myself of the “costume” I had been “living” in for the better part of a decade.  With each mile, I stepped closer to myself. With each day, I stepped a little further out of the hibernation I had contained myself in.

I shook my head slightly to bring my brain back to the present moment.  I looked out across the water and saw a couple of canoes gliding through the sun kissed lake.  I noticed the docks were in and kids were fishing.  I noticed a couple having a picnic in the grass to my right.

Standing on the shoreline tonight at the end of my miles, ninety pounds lighter, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes for a moment.  I thought about things I’ve been scared of.  I thought about people I’ve pushed away.  I thought about decisions I’ve made.  I thought about this past week.  I wondered how the hell I was going to jump the next hurdle.

And then I snapped these photos with my phone.

Oh, and that song?  This one.

Something From Nothing

I was driving through downtown Minneapolis on one of the warmest March days on record, my Canon DSLR was riding shotgun and I was thinking about where I wanted to go shooting that day.

(I started a random photo project, you see, in an effort to learn how to use the damn thing.  More on that soon.)

As I cruised down Hennepin Avenue that day, I saw a building I’d never noticed before.  It has a radical mural on it that I really need to go back and take in, as I only saw it for a few seconds.  As traffic flew by me in both directions, I slowed for a moment and snapped a photo as I drove by.  I didn’t have time to adjust any settings, I just snapped and drove.  Don’t tell the cops.

When I got home and reviewed the photos I had taken that day, I hated most of them.  That happens, no big deal.  I was anxious to see the Hennepin Avenue shot and was a little bummed (though, not surprised) that it was incredibly blurry and overexposed.  But still, I liked the image.  I threw it into my favorite photo editing program and started playing with it.

I exaggerated every aspect of the photo, giving it odd coloring and even more exposure.  I’m not a trained designer, nor is this an amazing shot, but I kind of dig the result nonetheless…