Now is a time to reflect. Another year of a life I'm unintentionally becoming accustomed to, always being on the move, camera hanging at my hip. Falling in love with people, places, and dreamlike memories. I've learned more lessons about love and growing up than ever during twenty seventeen. I left a place that was so close to becoming a permanent home, which would have been something new for me. Two years seemed to be my residency cap before I was off to the next place. I had a good job, started my own business, the sweetest little cottage of my dreams. All was well and dandy learning how to be completely independent- 'Adulting' as we now call it. But I needed more, so much more. Within two days I made up my mind, packed my bags and left Iowa City behind.
I traveled all over the country in a matter of weeks. From surfing in Mexico to road tripping all the way up the West Coast with my friends I was certainly off to a good start on what would be almost a year of the nomadic lifestyle. Trying to see what city felt like home to me, where I felt the most inspired. But being in the U.S. also wasn't cutting it for me. The everyday American way of life was slowly killing me inside, and after most of my year spent abroad I am more than convinced that our lack of real culture, monopoly big box stores, restaurant chains, and the need for too much space would eventually kill my creativity and then me.
I needed to be where time stood still. Where people had life left in their eyes. A place where I could be surrounded by good food and love, because naturally the two go hand-in-hand. Suddenly, I had a craving for pizza and pasta again, and that was my subconscious telling me I needed to go back to Italy.
I left for Italy having just fallen out of love, wanting to be free for the first time in forever, to do as I pleased. I gained back the weight that I had lost from what was a year of anxiety and depression acquired from living in the Midwest. Those margarita pizzas did me more than good - and with every slice, both mind and belly satisfied, I could feel myself coming back to life. Real food. Fresh produce. Actual flavor. No work, no meetings, no more feeling the need to rush. I slowed my life down a few knots, to forget about my worries and just live for a while. I started to fall in love with myself again.
Spending almost half of twenty seventeen in Italy taught me more lessons than I've ever learned throughout my twenty four years of living.
It had been years that I'd struggled to give myself the attention I needed and of course it was affecting my work. I spent a month living and working in Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy. At the time, this was the most beautiful place to be in my mind. Spending my mornings serving coffee and my afternoons on the beach I was living the life. A very slow one that in the end was just a little slower than anticipated. I needed a little bit more action and movement so I left to seek out my next home. I am forever grateful for my time spent in Positano, the friends I made, the crazy nights, and most importantly the time I spent with myself. Alone.
It was the best thing I've ever done for myself. Then, while on a pit stop to my next destination the unexpected happened. I fell in love.
I went to Viterbo, a small university town within medieval walls, straight out of a fairytale. A close friend of mine had been studying there, so I spent a few nights for her last couple days in the quaint city to enjoy a little taste of what her past five months was like. The first night I arrived I met all of her closest friends. Laura, Sara, Phoebe, Cj, and Lorenzo. They became everything to me. Life there was somehow different than anywhere I had been in the world. It was as if the entire town was one giant Italian family taking in all of us foreign orphans as their own, and that's something I sadly don't think I'll ever be able to find again.
I felt like I had a sense of purpose again. With this feeling of being surrounded by so much love and life I saw the light again, that is in photographic terms. My inspiration came back and I think I've made some of my best work in that little town. Of course, for those that kept up with my shenanigans you probably noticed I had suddenly found myself in an unexpected relationship with someone other than myself. This was not supposed to happen. I tried to fight it but the universe wanted it to happen, at least for a short while, and I'm glad it did. It was the kind of love story you fantasize about when you're twelve and watching The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Falling in love with an Italian only happens in Under the Tuscan Sun, not to me. Until I met him. Loving him was magic, it was laughter, it was exploring, magnificently good food, romantic days at the beach, and the best kisses. It was getting lost together with a camera. He brought out so much good in me that I had never seen before. Truly, no words could describe this - which is why I still find myself struggling to decipher whether it was true love or simply intense infatuation; lust. Because in the end, it was short lived. He broke my heart, which I had foreseen since the very beginning.
I plan to tell the story through a photo series this year, as one of my resolutions. But if I've learned anything in the year of 2017 it's that I now know what I am willing to do for love. For both myself and others. Love can take you further than anything else in this life. Forever will I remain a hopeless romantic, but for damn good reason. This has come to show through in my work this last year as well. My work has changed for the better from my time spent abroad.
So, with that being said I'd like to make a list of my resolutions for the new year (not in any particular order)
"a strange feeling of absolute harmony. It's a perfect moment. A soft light, a scent in the air, the quiet murmur of the city. A surge of love, an urge to help mankind"
May it be a fruitful year for us all.