Almost two months ago I posted (as part of The Striped Shirt Review with Emily Walter) ten photos with ten words to describe each one. Some of my photos blasted full, brilliant colors, but a few were black and white with a splash or just a hint of color. Those were my favorites.
Since then I’ve been writing a lot, but also taking copious pictures of all the places I’ve been as I’ve traveled deep down memory lane during my fortieth summer. Some of the stops were intentional and some just happened; as with any journey this one has been juiced with surprises. There’s been some light and dark to each place, to each moment.
I’ve taken photos of amazing sunrises and sunsets with that color that seems too beautiful to be real. That indescribably pinkish-orange enhanced by blue and purple sky, green grass and trees. I love those images—the capture of the moment between night and day—but mostly I’ve been drawn to the frames that capture light and dark together, not just the instant before and after.
It’s the contrast I adore. I love the juxtaposition and how one begs and threatens the other: consider me.
I like thinking about reference points and natural duality. For example, you can’t know hot if you don’t know cold and you can’t really hate something unless you’ve also once loved it.
The light and the dark need each other, but sometimes I need something concrete to assist my absorption of the abstract. For me, my light and dark images confirm what I already know and feel: there’s black and white to everything, there’s sun and there’s shadow, there are two sides to every story. There’s yin and there’s yang.
Shadow doesn’t exist without light; life doesn’t exist without death. Treetops grow toward the light, while roots exist in the dark. When a tree reaches its highest point of growth—its full potential—it falls. Its death becomes life.
Let me not mince words: it’s pretty fucking amazing.
Every single one of us has light and dark within us. For some the darkness is deeper, the light more outward, but it’s there. It’s always there to be discovered.
A friend of mine died the other night in a sunny part of the country almost to the minute that a baby was born to other friends in a place full of light, but where darkness is slowly creeping in. As I received the news I felt simultaneous grief and joy as both tragedy and hope filled the small space of my heart. At the same time, which is about enough to make a head spin and a heart lurch.
Almost two years ago I eulogized my grandfather and ended with a quote from Eckhart Tolle. “Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth.”
There are some things that don’t have exact opposites. Like home, which I’m currently without. The thesaurus tells me the opposite of home is foreign, but I’m not convinced. As I’ve traveled it’s been interesting to see what places just feel right and which do not. You see, I’m currently in the market for a new home, but I’m not so much interested in rushing things so I just kind of go here and there visiting friends and family as I finish writing a book that is giving as much a sense of home as the most comfortable bed and well-stocked kitchen. As much as familiar photos on the walls, a constant view out a window, a toothbrush that isn’t in perpetual motion.
One thing that I know is that even when I’m in a place that feels calming and comfortable and “good,” it doesn’t mean it’s the right place for me to stay. Or maybe it does, and I’ll eventually circle back.
One place that recently impressed me was Provincetown, Massachusetts all the way out on the end of Cape Cod. I don’t at all want to live there, but I’d like to visit for the rest of my life and here’s why: the place is full of joy. It brims with acceptance and love.
Provincetown is known as an LGBT summer destination, so a lot of the riff-raff is kept out. Provincetown is remote, so most people aren’t going to make the trip out there just to hate on a population they don’t approve of. The result is incredible. It feels safe. It feels happy. It feels like the kind of place where you just want to walk the streets until your paws wear out, which is what Lucky and I did.
What follows are twenty-four photos of light and dark. Most of them were taken in P-Town, but a few were taken in other parts of Cape Cod and in Maine. There are twenty-four photos because twenty-four is a multiple of six, and I’m currently obsessed with six. Each photo gets a six-word caption.
What’s with six? Well, five years ago I heard about the six-word memoir project, and I played a game where I asked everyone I ran into what his/her six word memoir would be. It was a fun project, but at the time just for sport. Since then my love affair with six-word memoirs has grown and became a structural device for the many-word memoir I’ve been writing. My title has six words, every chapter title is six words, and six-word memoirs are scattered about.
So. Twenty-four light and dark photos with a six-word memoir for each.
A closed shop; one man working.
The Pilgrim Monument. Tall, proud, bright.
Ambience is everything. Shine a light.
Art above and below street level.
Books beg me to buy them.
Lit windows, doors, steps an arch.
The light and dark are neighbors.
Lobster. Every day. Every single day.
The ocean at Truro was angry.
There’s always room for one more.
It looks closed yet still open.
Date night is a beautiful thing.
A dead tree full of shells.
The dock in Portland. J’s Oysters.
Parts of Maine offer one kind.
I wanted these. Forgot to buy.
They sold antiques but now BBQ.
We pierced ears here in 1989.
Where I sit today thinking, writing.
Fishing boats, sailing boats, lobster pots.
Light and dark in a harbor.
The brightest Light that I know.
Where the water changes direction. Love.
Hands down. My favorite photo ever.