When I first moved to Oregon I worked for the Lane Council of Governments as a water resources planner. My first project was coordinating workshops in rural communities to raise awareness about the Southern Willamette Valley Groundwater Management Area Plan. The ultimate goal of the plan was reducing nitrate (much of it from farming) in the area’s groundwater. My supervisor thought it’d be a good idea for me to familiarize myself with the valley by driving around posting flyers for the workshops we were offering. Literally, the first person I met on this drive was a guy in Junction City who saw me taping one up on a telephone pole and asked me what I was doing. I told him what the flyers were for, but more interestingly for both of us, I told him why I was doing it. I explained how I had just moved up from Riverside, California and this was my first time exploring the Willamette Valley. Lo and behold, he was from Riverside, too. We chatted about that for awhile, with him surmising that place had probably changed a whole lot since he lived there. I wish I would’ve gotten his photo, but that was before I claimed to be a “professional”. (And he was right, btw, it had changed a lot, and that was one of the big reasons I live in Oregon now.) I did get a few decent landscapes though.
Fast forward a few years and through a certain set of circumstances I’m snowbirding in Arizona. I put out an ad for a project I’m working on. Basically, I want to photograph people on their couches. (Talk about your highly conceptual meta-heady art, huh.) Anyway, it’s harder than you might think to get people to let you into their homes to do this, and that’s exactly why I think it’ll be kinda cool once I’ve found enough volunteers (and if you’re interested, let me know!) So think about this for a second. Some guy advertises on the internet that he wants to come to your home and take a portrait of you on your couch. Kinda sketchy right? Well, I get a bad case of the butterflies as well, even though I know what MY intentions are. So you can imagine it’s kind of a strange situation to walk into. Turns out, though, that the very first couple to let me do it, Jane and Dino, were really easy going and friendly. After the initial introduction we started chatting, and wouldn’t you know, turns out they used to live in Riverside, too! Dino was in the Air Force and stationed at March AFB years ago. So again, we chatted about that for awhile and it made the experience of letting a stranger into their home to take their photo that much easier to do.
It took me back to that first drive around the Willamette Valley and it made me think about how serendipitous life is sometimes, and how much mine has changed since then.
Life really is short, and you don’t realize this until you’ve already put in quite a few years. But as short as it is, and as overwhelming as things can get, it’s nice to know the world is still small enough where you can run into complete strangers in a completely new place and have a little something in common to pass even the shortest amount of time with, whether it’s a love of music, skateboarding, photography, or whatever else you’re into. It might even make you appreciate things you’ve taken for granted all these years….like having lived in Riverside, California. Because as much as I complained about that place when I lived there, I’ve met some good people who at one time or another called it home, too.
PS. Seriously, as I finished writing this, I had Mythbusters on in the background and they referenced a professor, from where?? Riverside. So weird!!