Here’s the deal with this trip. “Trip” is the best word I can find for it, as it’s neither vacation nor honeymoon, nor residency, nor vagabonding, nor holiday. We’re mostly working remotely in other people’s homes: some rentals, some housesits; some more suited to our needs than others. I haven’t written or shared much in these three months abroad, but my trusty notebook has captured evidence of fun highlights, learning moments, tourist itineraries, incredible meals, community connections, and widened perspectives.
My personal journey throughout this extended trip—by which I mean epic pratfall—has been bumpy and riddled with confusion, to say the least. Feeling creatively constipated and generally adrift, a chance encounter with a random youtube video that played out of nowhere (God, is that you?) invited me to focus ninety minutes every morning for ninety consecutive days on a singular project. I accepted this challenge in late November. Why wait for December?
Initially unclear on which one project to develop, I discovered my delight in playing with the many photographs I’d taken in the previous seven weeks. I downloaded a software tool that offered enough editing dials for free, though I admit some of the subscription-locked bells and whistles would be useful. Homesick for my two-going-on-three-year-old tradition of handmade holiday cards, I decided these photos needed captions. The French verb chercher (to look for, to seek) echoed in my mind after our inaugural dogsit in Mont Saxonnex with a pair of truffle hunters trained to Cherche! on command. A few days later, a kind elderly Parisian couple spotted my consternation amidst a busy sidewalk and asked, Vous cherchez quelque chose (Are you looking for something)? Thanks to them, we caught our train. Piecing together the repetition of this action word with my own overall loss of direction, the series in this gallery took shape under the rule to begin each caption with Je cherche (I seek). Another rule: because they’re in French, they’re in cursive. It’s a thing, and I don’t know why.
Here’s the deal with this series. It’s a game. It’s a game to help me rekindle creative impulses. It’s a game to channel my energy, to begin each day in a playful state. It’s a game of wordplay made trickier by intertwining English and French idiosyncrasies that both fog in translation. It’s a game of casual laissez-faire, as I haven’t been exporting the full-quality photo files, so they end up a bit fuzzy-looking. It’s a game to render travel memories more interactive, rather than dooming them to an untouched, unseen album. It’s a game (within a game) of hide-and-seek; sometimes I forget where I hid the caption, and what I wrote. It’s a game to force me outside, to observe, explore, and take more photos when the coffer runs low. It’s a game to appreciate how many photos I might edit in a ninety-minute session; to appreciate how many photos I might have in the series at the end of ninety days. It’s a game due to conclude in late February. It’s a game for me to notice where I’d make slight aesthetic adjustments. It’s a game I didn’t intend to share, yet displaying “imperfect” work offers me a chance to edge out of my comfort zone.
I have another month to go, so you’ll find more photos in the gallery along the way. They’re currently organized by locale in alphabetical order, which isn’t chronological. I’m working on the blog bug that’s separating upload batches into their own alphabetized sections…very unexpected. I intend to add image descriptions and make this gallery accessible to everyone. (Contact me if you’d like to contribute your hand at describing one or a selection of images! Audio/image description is a great tool to sharpen and practice.) When I have access to and time with a larger monitor, I intend to re-order the gallery into a curated story sequence based on the captions, which will mix up the locations.
Comments about the series, photos, or captions are welcome on this page; see below. Right-click on this gallery link, then select the first option “open link in new tab” for most ease to return here. Once you click to enlarge a photo from the display grid, you can view the fullscreen(ish) photos with your left/right arrow keys. Be patient; they might be slow to open. If you aren’t a fan of mystery, I recommend having this translation search open in another tab. Remember to refresh the page to see the rest of my 90-day progress populate the gallery, through March at the latest.
Enjoy! Bon appétit!