Like Polly, I just LOVE to travel. I’ve been traveling a lot over the past few years, mainly for work as my freelance photography business has blossomed. But sometimes you get a little road-weary. You come home from a long trip, or a long series of back-to-back trips, and realize you have no weekend plans; and really nobody waiting for you back home. You come and go, like a stranger walking through an empty house at night while everyone sleeps. Just passing through…
Many of my friends have left Austin over the past few years. Even before my business took off, I had a lot of friends spread out all over the U.S. and scattered around the world. And so it was refreshing to hear from an old friend, still living in Austin, who I hadn’t seen in five years. In the age of social media, it’s funny how you can seem to interact with someone on a regular basis and yet really not interact with them at all. It’s all kind of a modern-day illusion.
I love how you can be thrust into a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in years and, if you’re kindred spirits, just kind of pick up where you left off. Conversation at one point turned to life’s deeper questions, like who will take care of us when we’re older, seeing as how neither of us plans to have children of our own. For my friend, that question had long been on his heart after taking care of Polly in her twilight years. Would we end up in the same boat?
I used to dog sit a lovely gentle giant. He was an old English sheep dog. The last time I saw him, just before my trip to Peru, the poor guy couldn’t get up by himself. I had to help him up, lifting his heavy body while his legs struggled beneath him to find anchor in the floor and eventually stand up. On one occasion he soiled himself from the effort and I calmly wiped down the mess and hosed him off outside. More than anything, it made me sad, because that’s what my friend and I had been discussing just a few days earlier.
I thought of all these things as I opened the urn and spread Polly’s ashes at the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. To my assistant, who was traveling with me that day, it all seemed like a fun little novelty. But to me it felt deeper than that. Friendship is funny. Here I was spreading the ashes of someone I never had the pleasure of meeting. But I was doing it for my friend. And I realized how interconnected we all really are. And now I’m making an effort to reach out to people I haven’t talked to in years because life really is too short. As one of my favorite authors once wrote, “Beyond a certain age, sincerity ceases to feel pornographic.”