Dorothy Gale! This morning when I woke up in my own bed, I finally had an explanation to my recent eight day odyssey. I had survived three (?) Emerald Cities in eight days. I photographed two epilepsy awareness walks (Here are photos from yesterday’s National Walk for Epilepsy). My adventure included lions and super shuttles and service dogs. On Friday night, there was a tornado warning in Washington, D.C. Two nights earlier, the storm nearly trapped me in Chicago.
My blind faith was tested often the last eight days. When I photographed the Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County fundraiser, I felt disoriented. I was in the valley of the blind… and I was not the person who had one eye. I needed a service dog just as much as anyone else.
On Wednesday, I left Oakland for Washington. Because of the Midwest storm, I barely made my connecting flight. When I ran onto the plane, the flight attendant told me that they were “waiting for me.” I sat in the back middle seat. I swear, the woman sitting at the window seat said, “soon you will wake up from this dream.” REALLY. The man sitting on the aisle was afraid to fly. He started playing music. First song, “Into the Mystic.” (Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic) I wish I could make this stuff up.
Service dogs attended every epilepsy event I photographed in San Diego and Washington, D.C. Eventually, I began trusting their presence. I started noticing that every wrong turn led somewhere right. I almost felt home. My second night, I missed my shuttle. I was offered a smoking room for free plus benefits. I took it and felt as if I had traveled back in time to the 70’s. I also met an amazing person who works for the hotel who I hope to see again this summer and shoot a wedding. When I found Proverbs 28 and the Law Enforcement Memorial (my father was a law enforcement officer), I had gotten off at the wrong Metro stop. I walked outside and found the Buildings Museum displaying large “Home” signs… almost home. See The Just Right Home.
I booked the wrong hotel. It almost never happens. Instead of staying at my regular DC hotel, I booked an Embassy Suites. (It is my new regular hotel.) There was a big lion outside with emerald words. In case I forgot, there was Road Work ahead. The hotel digital radio station also played “road” or “travel” theme songs too. Oh, and thank you Bruno for recommending Shazam!
At the National Walk for Epilepsy VIP Event, there was the tornado warning seen in the featured photo, there was a little princess and a remodeled theater showing a MLK performance Mountaintop and a George Bernard Shaw adaption (My Fair Lady.) I thought about George Bernard Shaw’s popular quote that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”
But what about the road not taken or the dirt road or … the road taken with thousands of your best friends? What happens when we put someone on our shoulders… or we let someone help us?
Staff wore bright yellow shirts this year with the phrase “Walk This Way.” I sang Aerosmith all day wondering how I could build the song’s refrain into an epilepsy awareness campaign. We already have TalkAboutIt, and it is a fine site, but it is not Rock and Roll. (Walk This Way/ Talk About It??? No! Grunberg? What can we do?)
If the “Walk This Way” shirts were equivalent to “follow the yellow the brick road,” then The Keep Calm and Walk On shirts were similar to “there’s no place like home.” I loved the shirts. The color popped against the blue sky and the person talking to the man on stilts reminds me of Glinda talking to The Wizard. (Pay no attention to the man on stilts.)
With my blind faith restored, I began thinking of home, both as a destination and metaphor. “Can’t Find My Way Home” the song by the musical group Blind Faith, includes the line “I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home.” I woke up in my bed, but I have not found Home. I thought I had the answer, but I only know that I must start at the new finish line… AND this next part is important. Home must provide the space to play Blind Faith (Can’t Find My Way Home), Blake Shelton (Home), The Beatles Golden Slumbers), and Stephanie Mills (Home). Don’t tell anyone, but I might compromise on the first three, but not with Stephanie Mills.
I have edited this post on February 15, 2014. I included the link to The Mead Center, the site of last year’s VIP reception. I included the featured photo that sometimes disappears. I may have fixed a few spelling errors.