Yesterday, we arrived in Paris. Last night, I slept for ten hours. My Fitbit logged eighteen restless minutes during my sleep marathon, but I don’t remember any of that. In the realm of professional sleepers, I’m the champ.
As I lay comatose, Pat learned he had won a photo contest—his second win in the past month. It gave him something to think about until he drifted off near dawn.
When I woke up this morning, I saw the announcement online. Pat was finally asleep. I was proud of him.
Last week in Philadelphia, he mentioned we should go to Indonesia. He rarely picks a country like this—both unsolicited and so far away. I immediately picked up my phone and googled “one month in India.”
“Here’s a really good trip. We could go at the end of our year in Paris. February. It’s a perfect month for India. We could spend a week in New Delhi. Then go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. And then down to the blue city, Jodhpur.” (Yes, I realize the golden triangle of tourism goes to Jaipur. But Jodhpur is the city that Steve McCurry photographs. Mentioning Steve McCurry to a street photographer is like wearing a meat dress on a shark dive.)
Pat said, “Julie, I said Indonesia.”
“Indonesia, India, Indiana… what’s the difference?”
(I looked at the cards in my hand. A billion people? Non-potable water? Street photographer that blows the doors off? I knew which one to play.)
“I’d rather go to Indonesia.”
“You’d get better pictures in India.”
“You go to India. I’m going to Bali.”
Pat and I have survived these last five years by knowing when to let a discussion die. I changed the subject. He let me.
Both of Pat’s recently selected photos were taken in Guatemala. I love photos that connect to something inside of me, a memory or a goal. Guatemala is a county where children play with sticks and hoops and balls—no electronically induced trances.
When I was a kid, I left my house right after breakfast and returned only when my parents rang a brass bell nailed to the aging oak tree in our yard. During the long days of July, I would gulp down dinner and race back to a raging kickball game until the bell rang again at dusk. The minute my sister and I heard the clang, we ran for home. To return late could incur the worst of all punishments: spending the next day inside. Our skinny legs flew up the path.
Pat’s photo tapped into those memories. I love it on so many levels: I was there when he took it. It reminds me of my fairly idyllic youth. It was taken by my favorite photographer.
This morning, I casually pointed out to him, “You realize, both of the winning photos were taken in Guatemala. That’s no coincidence.”
“I know,” he replied.
I let him mull on this for a minute.
“Maybe we need to go to India.”
He was silent.
I did a happy dance.