Whilst I am Drawing Breath by Amy Elkins

Issue 54

“I know once we sail away from land, the tie that holds me back will dissolve of itself.” - Rabindranath Tagore, The Diary of a Westward Voyage. 1924

I recently revisited these words, scrawled in one of the opening pages of of a worn, black, leather-bound notebook. It was written just before departing Portland a year ago in early September. Once I left, everything changed, and I never truly returned.

3 months, 9 airports, 7 Countries, 5 foreign languages, 4 currencies. I had pushed through crowded markets and witnessed Sufi ceremonies in Turkey, walked miles in Denmark through cemeteries and ballet houses, woke to the endless Bavarian Alps for the two months I was on an artist residency in Germany, joined the rowdy teens in the métro and got lost in the streets of Paris, walked in the relentless rain in London, looked down at Salzburg from a castle on the top of a mountain, marveled at the moon-like landscape and sat in steaming pools with strangers in Iceland. Foreign chatter fell all around me like white noise for months. Strangers and wonderful new friends came in and out of my life. History and religious weight seemingly loomed over Europe in it’s cathedrals and cemeteries and museums and alleyways.

And there I was longing for something... anything familiar. And sooner than I could have processed what I had experienced, I was on a layover in NYC, frazzled from jet-lag, loss and a different type of culture shock. It was December and I found soon after landing back in the States, that most things I had left in Portland had dissolved in my absence. I was too tired and weary from traveling to understand any of it. I flew home, moved almost everything I owned into a 5x10 storage unit. I took what I needed. And I drove 1,000 miles away.

These photographs unraveled during this time.

Amy Elkins (currently) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA
To view more of Amy's work, please visit her website.