Today, accordion notes gliding down Mission street chased melancholy into the arms of hopeful. For a moment the 14-year old kid who won the accordion contest in Lafayette popped into my mind. It was the first show of the morning and together with my family we sat in church, sipped our coffee and watched this kid play. His fingers moved fast and steady. I wonder how many hours he has practiced in his lifetime? Would he have time to ride a bike everywhere, practice yoga, cook and have a social life too? Could I really attempt to learn the accordion? Perhaps. But I’ll need to start soon if I hope to learn at least two songs before I die.
Most recently, I’ve been excited about the idea of learning Cajun French. I really want to speak it. But mostly I want to sing it. Today while walking to the corner store to purchase an avocado for my morning omelet, I had a brilliant dream-thought: I would take part in the occupy movement by occupying the fruit of anglo-americanization (my english language). In order to do this, I would take myself to France! Yes, that is what I’ll do! I’ll find a small town nestled in the French Alps and recruit a language teacher. I’ll spend days hiking peaks and nights studying by fireside. This language is different than my grandparents’, but close enough. And the thought of being in the Alps makes me squeal a bit in anticipation. And if the thought of Alp-living isn’t enough of a romantic dream, I’ll give you more. First, I would learn French on a mountaintop then begin my travel back to North America via boat (this is the point where I completely ignore my memories of getting extremely sea sick for hours on a boat off the coast of Florida when I was 10). Each sunset and sunrise would take my breathe away, bringing me such inspiration that my journal pages would get trampled by ink. The big expanse of water. The quirky boat characters that make up these floating communities of ship parts. Yes, most certainly, this time…the ocean would love me. It would coast me all the way to Nova Scotia, where I would find a farm to work on for a spell. I’d visit where my ancestors built levies to create their farmland. The Acadians (the French peasants that moved to Nova Scotia in the 1600’s) built these incredible levies by hand. Each day they waited for the planet’s pull to change the tide and when it gave them the space, they built strong walls. Bit by bit, the water level changed and salt drained from the land. Here they farmed bountifully and peacefully for centuries, until their exile. Most left peacefully, some fought. Eventually, many of the Acadians ended up in Louisiana, starting a new life from scratch.
I’m imagining I will have the luxury to leave peacefully…on a train or a bicycle perhaps. Or maybe I’d follow footsteps south down the Appalachian Trail or soak up the courage to sit stiff-like in a Greyhound bus overnight. My next destination would be New Orleans, where the beignets would have their way with me. The powdered sugar would drift onto my lap and skirt the sides of my mouth. These delightful fluffs of naive sugar would be the starting point of awkward friendships. I’d explore the city before the small towns. From here, one thing would lead to the next…maybe I’d find myself riding on bayou boats, wearing camouflage at a deer lease, or holding strings with chicken necks tied to them in order to catch crabs for dinner. Quite possibly I’d learn how to lead a waltz or score the opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes of an accordion builder’s shop. The possibilities are out there, maybe I just need to keep writing them on paper.
Dreams are so lovely this time of day. The sound of rain on city streets and bicycle bells at intersections. People gather at the church next door and I wonder how I ever found myself inside these walls of intricate detailed urban-soaked architecture. I write about these things because it reminds me to keep dreaming. The dreams happen differently each time, but sometimes they stick. And when it’s time to leap, I’ll know and I will. I’ll prepare and fly high with my pen. I’ll keep taking pictures and reading and writing as if my life depends on it.
But for now, I’ll show more pictures. I will think of what to ask and when. I’ll imagine what could be captured and what simply cannot. I’ll keep listening to Cajun music everyday as I stock groceries, wondering when I will pick up my first accordion. I’ll follow the waves of excitement that photography is surprisingly offering me again, after our 5-year breakup. My brilliant digital point-and-shoot has graced the scene and as it turns out, I’m in love with it, too. I’m reminded how the camera can take you away, or bring you closer. Creating a purpose or a separation…it leaves you with something tangible, a place to return and remember. Images frozen in time can befriend the real-time of language and music, and together they’ll remind people that vibrant culture still exists in little pockets. In these pockets, people are holding on for dear life…fighting, even. They are filling their cups and inadvertently others’. Maybe this is how dreams make real-life. We keep filling them up to the brim and one day…we’ll manage to walk away with something half full.