If it's one thing I am not good at it is waiting.
This one's going to go back to the winter of 1979 and it may take a few posts to get it finished. This story of me waiting is peripherally related to photography but this post represents a new direction for the blog. Let me know if you like it.
I have a story to tell.
The plan was for me to get on the road to the Southwest after the fall semester's teaching at New England School of Photography in Boston and Harvard Unversity in Cambridge. I would be gone several months, staying with friends, friends of friends, and in motels along the way. My aging Porsche 914 was to be my wheels
and I was traveling with two 2 1/4 inch cameras, a Hasselblad Superwide and a Rollei SL66.
Let me see if I can set the stage. I lived in Cambridge, MA. The previous fall I'd had an amazing class at NESOP with wonderful students. I planned on this being, yes, a photo trip but also a scouting trip for a new job and maybe a move the next year to live in the Southwest. I was single, having split up with my wife in 1976. I'd told the school I wasn't coming back to teach there again and my students hosted parties and celebrations and made a big deal of me leaving. Harvard was easier as I only taught there in the fall semester each year and didn't know if I'd be back the next fall.
So, after Christmas, I packed up my gear and left it in the front hall ready to go in the car. The 914 had been gone over, its oil changed and fluids topped off, its snow tires mounted and it was ready for a cross country trip in January, or so I thought.
After saying goodbye to friends and telling the house sitter I was leaving the next morning, the night before I was to leave I went out to dinner with my good friend Fred Sway. First, we tried a famous steakhouse called Hilltop Steakhouse
but there was a long waiting line so we went back to Cambridge to eat at the first and original Legal Seafood in Kendall Square. We parked right in front on a cold and clear January night. After dinner we got back in the car, I started it up and went to pull out and heard a loud "clunk" as the car settled in the right rear and refused to move. We got out to see the right rear wheel was canted over and the car was sitting on its belly. Long story short the rear axle was broken. The battery which sat right above it had leaked acid over time and rotted it out.
That night the car was towed to the dealer and thus began some serious waiting.
For the next three weeks, I lived in a kind of limbo, cut off from life in Boston that was moving on, was not teaching, and having said goodbye to everyone I was close to, with no car and nothing to do.
I called the dealer now several times a day. They were tasked with welding the frame back together and waiting for new parts to arrive from Germany. I was a wreck, feeling that my apartment had become a prison, and was not sleeping well. I felt caught, ready to go but defeated by the day after day character of being told it wasn't ready yet. Those three weeks dragged on and on, feeling interminable. I'd made such a big deal of my going but I was still home, caught.
The stress of that time felt a little like the stress of what we are dealing with now with Covid for that kind of anxiety over weeks or months wears us down and weighs on us in ways that it is hard to predict or fathom. With my days consumed worrying about when I'd be able to start the trip of a lifetime, to make new work, to try to find a new teaching position, I felt deprived, anxious and depressed. I was lonely and cut off. I've had many very difficult times in my life. This was one of them.
Let's stop there. I'll start up next time with a much happier story of me headed on my trip, first stop New Orleans.
New Orleans, LA 1979