As usual when a journey touches me, transforms me, I struggle to nail the words to describe it. I feel as if this attempt would impoverish the actual experience. So I just let the echo of the silent resonate inside me, I just let Time decide whether it would be their revelator. Today, 5 month later, plunging myself into those pictures, I feel the need, the emergency to translate into words my experience.
This trip took place in Oregon, in Klamath Falls, a small town which can only be immense through the prism of European eyes. It was in July and it was my first time in the States. Physically speaking that is, as of course, I’ve been there before, through movies, books, poetry, music, Americans I met and the collective unconscious. America, its history, its people, its landscapes, its wonders, its infinite roads, had always exerted on me a strong attraction if not a fascination. In my life in Europe, I have been meeting a few American expats living their European dream distancing themselves from their lands and enjoying what Europe has to offer. They come from San Francisco, they moved to a tiny town in the Basque Country and they live every day as a blessing, hoping that their visas will last longer. I found this mutual attraction really fascinating thinking that we could just swap our lives and our countries to satisfy our curiosities.
I came in Klamath with the idea to immerge myself in a day-to-day life of an American family, unknown till my arrival. I found the best one, I found more than I could have expected. Heidi, Ryan, their 3 kids and the black lab/retriever. They opened their doors broadly in a generous & simple way. They shared with me their life, their world: the Saturday baseball match of the kid, Sunday’s service in the local church, the weeding of their friends, the lunch at the park, the motorcycling around, the work out together, the auction of their future house, the rafting, the shopping in the supermarket, the gold-mining, the week end in their grand-parents’ house, the family get-together, the camping, the laughter with the kids…
I think adventure must be searched in unexpected places and mine, this summer, was found in the daily routine of a genuinely beautiful American family. And back in Europe, I realize that they have something that we are missing here. To observe the way they were raising their kids, the way they were connected to the community, to neighbours and strangers, the way they are trying to be the best people every day even to the point where they forget to think about themselves… It was what I called a life-changing trip. And I thank them for that.
I Hear America Singing – Poem by Walt Whitman
I Hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics–each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat–the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench–the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song–the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother–or of the young wife at work–or of the girl sewing or washing–Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day–At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.