The Long Haul Project, which consists of Tom and Melissa, is here again with their second column: still about love, lomography, and their adventures in between!
April 2011. In California, looking for the meaning of modern marriage. Trying to reconnect. Searching for sunshine. Catching up with old friends. Getting to know new ones. Marveling at the beauty that’s so much bigger than what we know on the East Coast. Go West is still an ever-present promise in America. A place where you can be anything, meet anyone, invent yourself anew.
Everything had been going wrong in the run-up to our trip. Our plan was to interview two couples for our marriage documentary, with some vacation time in between. But we had a last-minute cancellation with one couple, then an unexpected illness with another. Even as the plane took off from Boston, we were trying to rebook and recalibrate. But when we landed, none of it seemed to matter. We were on another adventure together, and everything else was just icing on the cake.
We had 10 days, starting in San Francisco. I always forget just how steep the streets are. Driving through them felt like a roller coaster ride. The weather changed half a dozen times every day, leaving us sticky with sweat then shivering as the fog rolled in. You need to be prepared for anything. And so we were— lomographically speaking— armed with our Diana, Smena and Sprocket Rocket.
On our first full day, we sat in the sunshine in Union Square with everything stretching before us. Oversized hearts flank each corner of the park and that felt right. It’s nice to be in a place that you’ve visited many times before so there’s no pressure to see and do. You can just be. We looped lazily through Yerba Buena Gardens, then lost an hour in Chinatown looking at snow globes, paper lanterns, discounted suitcases, porcelain dolls.
Even though we were supposed to head South, we couldn’t resist sneaking north to Napa Valley for a couple of days in the vineyards. We stayed in a little place down an old dirt road in the middle of nowhere. There were goats, geese, hare, game hen. We dined on moules frites at my favorite restaurant in the world. We drank a beloved bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, ate cheese and olives, traded stories with other B&B guests and got to know some of the locals while wine tasting. We talked to each other about important things, like what made us happy and how we could be closer. We made plans and promises for the future. I wished we could stay forever.
There is nothing better than wandering through beautiful places with the person you love and your Lomography cameras. You’re in the moment but also outside of it. You notice people, signs, angles and encounters that you might otherwise miss. You move more slowly, not wanting to miss anything. You savor the day.
I know it’s a cliché, but I think we leave a little bit of our hearts in San Francisco each time.
Tom & Melissa