This past Winter, I spent an unusual amount of time away from my home base. I traveled back to Scotland, where I am from, for the first time in four years. I was able to introduce my son to most of my family for the first time. I went to London, where I was reunited with an old friend from University. I also used that opportunity to meet with a photographer, whom I have long admired but had never met - Brett Walker. I lived in Kinston, NC for a couple of months, with my mother in law. I visited my best friend in West Virginia. It was a four month long, enjoyable (for the most part) roller coaster ride. It would take an inordinate amount of energy, time and focus to try and relay the depth of what I learned during this departure from my usual sphere. To cut it short, I think that the combination of experiences and the slightly disembodied feeling that one can have, when removed from all that is familiar, has enriched my soul. I felt so much, so keenly. I thought about others, their lives and their histories with greater depth and empathy than ever before. I felt separate yet so connected.
Close to Mom's house, there is an old tobacco barn. There are many of these in NC and across the south. We don't have them where I come from. They are a part of the history of the people who are now my family. They are decrepit and neglected, as all our stories and histories will become if we have no one to share them with. It's important to share our stories and to share ourselves. It's important to think about the factors that make people what they are. It is important to understand yourself and to give others a chance of understanding you. So here I am in a landscape that means something in my life. Here I am at the beginning of a new chapter in my story.