Wandering through Tampa, bright and early on a Sunday morning, served up a variety of odd characters, in odd places doing odd things. While the rest of the world was home basking in the comfort of the Sunday paper with coffee, the roar and drone of a football game or the sweaty hope of a successful do-it-yourself home repair project… I was out wandering.
A funny collection of ladies all dressed in white, were in the midst of posing for their photographer friend dressed in purple. I stumbled upon them first from a distance and then as I got closer they all stopped and watched me walk even closer. Then I raised my camera and they all broke into a pose. It was the oddest thing and the coolest at the same time.
It was as if they were all thinking that someday they would be famous and this picture would really be worth something. Then I walked away with a most excellent picture of them; them not knowing who I was and I not knowing who they were, much less who they might become.
My journey continued as I walked underneath a building made of dots. As I stood aimed at the center of its corner, I wondered if the building was pushing out or pushing in. Unsure I captured the corner of the building as a metaphor of the various ways many people can see the same thing in different ways. Each of us positive we are right in what we see and yet, we each see something equally correct and completely different.
I found an abandoned train track going across a trellis. I ventured out across the bridge going nowhere in search of something that had destiny. In the middle of the bridge was a twisted metal rod holding down a railroad tie that no train would ever be on again. A giant winding twist of steel holding two massive bolts into a thick block of weathered wood for absolutely no reason and no purpose.
At one time such a grip might have been necessary, but now it’s just a useless reminder of a long ago extraordinary power still tightly wound, without recent purpose while posing on display. What things we hang onto as if our life depends on it, that are no longer relevant to the here and now.
I watched a couple taking dozens of selfies. A joyous reminder of the beginning; perfect moments made blissful before time reveals all the truth about one another. Precious ignorant moments filled with possibility and hope, feeding the eternal wish that the other actually is as they are seen. Delicious infatuation; may time slow to a halt and stave off the knowledge that comes from experience.
Friends meet at a cafe table. One looks at the other and holds his tongue. He will not tell his friend how closely he resembles the dog he holds.
A homeless woman spins dried reeds into worthless flowers offered in exchange for charitable handouts by those walking past.
Mindless wandering and aimless drift pulls me into a secret convention. A fantasy world created by little known computer gamers who spill out as costume characters into a courtyard behind a hotel as I walked by. I follow the open doors in and bravely enter this make-believe world I was not officially invited to. Strangely they all begged to have their photos taken. Their crazy place was my destination of sanctuary, as is the dual definition of Asylum.
Endless characters made up in every extreme, wandered into my view as dramatic gamers struck their poses, giving real life to the roles they played in fictional computer games.
And then, much like the game, the round was over and I left the characters and their playful life threatening episodes behind me.
On the way back to my car, I passed a group of country singers and their groupies gathered in a circle outside a hotel lobby. They spoke in horse tones about the fun they had the night before while smoking cigarettes. I captured a woman in the circle as she thought about how good the cigarette was or whatever existed in her life to make her feel important.
Maybe she was a backup singer in the band and finally made it. Maybe she was the lead, a famous country singer and this was her crew; they were her band, groupies and musicians.
Or maybe she was just remembering a time long ago, when she stood in a circle with her girlfriends as one of them tried to take a picture of them way before they become famous.