Years ago, there was this girl-child and she was me, and she was clear on what she wanted to do. As soon as she was old enough she began wandering.
It was always known by my smallest self that I loved people and new places. Later I loved writing and reading - which is really just wandering in other ways - and I was gifted my first camera in my teens. I loved being the keeper of memories.
However, when I was about 10, I spent two years with a teacher who was obsessed with the fact the world would be ending ... SOON. CATACLYSMICALLY.
There was the Cold War and the imminent nuclear holocaust but he had a list of other options that would see the world fall to pieces before I was 16.
My small self would also break out in a cold sweat whenever he talked of his ideas. A memorable one was the fact that so many oil-carrying ships would sink that they would cover the ocean with a slick that would stop the sun from doing its thing.
We were all going to die.
It was about then I started having some serious anxiety attacks, often in the middle of his class. No one made the connection, not even me. I was too little.
Not only was I an anxious child, I was so right-brained and curious that I learned to be constantly mortified by this terrible character flaw.
I was stubborn. I was placed in secretarial school at 16 or 17 but I escaped into a lawyer's office ... just before final exams. They weren't exams I was going to pass. I wrote poems in Mr Thornycroft's accountancy classes. I looked at the keys when learning to touch-type, and I despised Teeline. It's the form of shorthand I was meant to learn so as to be employable as a female back then. The options were, and it came from a place of love, secretarial work or nursing and I knew I was never going to be a nurse.
I exited after 9 months with the lawyers. I wrote poetry there too because the work was in no way taxing and I had time to fill. A friend had two uncles who owned a rather posh caryard in the city. I moved, impulsively, to work as a car groomer when the 'emperor's new clothes' nature of the office job overwhelmed me. I learned to drive, and how to add quite some value to a car with the thorough clean but one day, I left.
Finally I found a most marvellous job with one of Dunedin's top photographers back then. He was very right-brained too. It was maddening and fun in the same moment. It was so good to find such a creature existed but I didn't quite understand all of that yet. I didn't really know that there were creative people and that perhaps I was one of that tribe ...one of the irresponsible ones.
I married my first boyfriend, moved to a small town in the middle of the middle of the South Island and, like a piece of driftwood at sea, I began following the currents of his life. He was a teacher with a university degree. I was the wife who wrote and took photographs, while raising our daughter.
Fast-forwarding a huge number of years and the Cold War is over but the world is, as it always has been, unstable. The oceans are a mess but we're still breathing. And I made it past 16.
The anxiety didn't stop me. I earned a university degree in my 30's, moved to Istanbul alone despite being terrified, and I cried in the shower before flying to Rome that first time. Sometimes, when I'm in Genova, I almost die from my imagination and fears but these days I'm working with someone on pulling out these slightly wonky pieces and fixing them some.
It's interesting, for me, and has become that thing I wish I had done so many years earlier. I always had the 'just do it' attitude but I worried ... A LOT. I really didn't like flying but flew anyway, so far from New Zealand. I'm terrible at languages but spent two years living alone in Istanbul, and now there is Nederlands. I still bite my fingernails.
I love the story of people so much that I forget to be businesslike. I need a personal assistant to keep me on the rails and stop me from having a million ideas that are good but that involve so many lifetimes that it's better to have them nipped in the bud. I still struggle to understand that I have some talents.
I struggle. Maybe that's what I'm trying to write here. I think we all do ... or maybe not everyone but here on the blog, I have written mostly of good things and I'm not sure that I should because what I do, this way of living, is really difficult. It's full of doubts and insecurities. It's full of feeling a fool for all kinds of reasons.
So I'm stepping back from just writing of photography and travel here and perhaps, sometimes, I'll write of the things that I'm learning as I make my way back to that little girl who knew who she was before she learned to be scared.