Guilt hung over me like a pregnant rain cloud as I backed my car out of the garage. Three pair of sad eyes followed the car's progress down the driveway, one hand and one little paw raised forlornly in a wave, the third set of eyes sat in silence, staring at me from his spot at the living room window.
If only they would understand that I am a better wife and mother when I take this time for solo adventures. I am a better photographer and writer when I push myself to explore unfamiliar places. There is comfort in the familiar, but growth happens when I push into the unknown.
This spring, whether I wrote pieces for a writing class I was taking, or posts for my blog, after I wrote the first, bits and pieces draft, and then the second, some semblance of order draft, I always made the same note after re-reading them the following morning - Needs More Feeling - written in red ink.
By noting this I didn't just mean add more feeling to my writing, I also meant add more feeling to my life. I am so busy moving from one event to the next, that I don't allow myself to feel, only observe, note details and move on. It is alright to be an observer, but I have to be aware of how things make me feel, that is the only way to bring people into the story or into the photograph.
I set off that rain cloud morning, to explore and photograph something I remember visiting as a child and then again in the very early years of our marriage, when I was only a slightly more grown-up child; a pair of hydroelectric dams, located on unexplored back roads in a northern county. When I mentioned to my husband where I was going that morning, he didn't like the idea, saying "people get killed at those dams". Now I have not heard of any murders there in recent years, and the rebel in me wanted to go even more, just to prove him wrong. I trust my intuition and if something seems off, I tend to play it safe and avoid the place.
As I drove down the road, my rain cloud of guilt trailed along behind me, I knew the only way to make that cloud dissipate was to get that first photograph taken, somehow then the joy of creativity takes over and guilt is banished. The fruit orchards in this northern place were in full bloom, and blooms were on my photo bucket list for the spring. Orchard found, photograph taken, the sun came out and the oppressive rain cloud was gone.
Reaching the town closest to the dams, I decided to stop at the local McDonald's for a bathroom break and a snack. Snack in bag, I drove to a small park located in the heart of downtown. I remembered the park from camping weekends with the in-laws in those early married years.
The park was quiet, and the picnic tables were clean. I settled in with my snack and a book. When finished with my hash brown and caramel latte, I closed my book, a few more chapters read in my book for the upcoming book club. I lifted my head and took in the view around me. I was surrounded by detail rich, old brick buildings. There was a tan brick church directly across the street from me with a beckoning door waiting to be photographed. Just past the church was a set of mysterious metal stairs leading upwards toward an even more mysterious looking building. I brought my trash to the receptacle, returned my book to the car, grabbed my camera and set off to explore the town.
I hadn't forgotten the dams, but I was learning to slow myself down, and trust my intuition. I was curious to see where the mysterious stairs led and how I would feel about my discovery.