this place

by elizestrydom

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In the middle of my Small Town Girl USA project I took a week off in New York City. I’ve long been in love with the place and first visited in September 2009, on a whim. I booked a flight and told my boss I’d be back in three weeks. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My jaunt happened to coincide with All Tomorrow’s Parties and I wrangled a photographer’s pass to attend the three day festival in upstate New York. I shot some epic bands: Sufjan Stevens, Animal Collective, Shellac, The Flaming Lips, Nick Cave, Bridezilla, the Drones, Iron & Wine, and Deerhunter – a surreal experience. The city got under my skin and the buzz of my little solo adventure never really wore off. Once home, I started thinking of ways to get back there. I knew I wanted to stay for a substantial period of time but I didn’t want to simply be a tourist. So in June 2011, a day after Bon Iver released Bon Iver, a day after seeing one of The Middle East’s last ever shows, a day after starting a relationship with a dear boy, I got on a plane and flew to the States. I’d been accepted into a photo journalism course at the International Center of Photography and had lined up 11 weeks accommodation with an Australian couple living in Brooklyn. What can I say about that time? It was a dream; I was learning so much about myself, my craft, the way the world works, the way relationships don’t work. At times I was wide eyed, hungry, curious and in awe. Then sometimes I was bored, lonely, lost and longing. I couldn’t get over how much freedom I had. Looking back, though, I see my heart was still very much at home. Still, when it came time to leave, it physically hurt and I certainly wasn’t ready. Which is why I couldn’t wait to get back there in July this year. But, if I’m honest, it just wasn’t the same. I found the city too loud, too hot, too smelly and too busy. Everyone seemed to be hustling, hard. The little crew I hung out with in the summer of 2011 were scattered all over the place, the couple I’d lived with in Brooklyn had broken up, I didn’t have much money and my sense of wonder seemed lost somewhere. After spending five weeks with warm families in close-knit communities, it was fair to say I experienced some form of culture shock. Of course, I could have been over-thinking the whole thing or maybe I was just a little worn out. I definitely did have fun and there were moments when I was reminded just how crazy special the city is….I was just in a different frame of mind, my focus had shifted. I’m sure the next time I visit I’ll have a blast and wonder what I was thinking during that week in July 2013…

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