europa europa

Dropping Ryan off at the airport the other day got me thinking about my first trips to Europe and I would be lying if said I was not a bit envious. It also made me think of something I wrote for a friend’s burgeoning magazine a while back:

Near Angelholm, Sweden

FAMILIAR: adj. Often encountered or seen

I remember one of the first times that I flew to Europe. At some point towards the end of the flight I shifted in my seat and leaned my forehead onto the small plastic window and looked straight down. I was heading to Germany and as I gazed below me the European continent moved lazily past. The brownish-green land continuously slipped by and after a time I realized that somewhere down there, were people. The spell had been broken, and I felt that I was moving over thousands of lives. I found myself daydreaming about all of these invisible inhabitants. I was trying to imagine how they lived and what they were doing at that very moment, as if I were some anthropologist who had just stumbled upon a lost tribe. I don’t know how long I was caught up in this endeavor but, I vividly remember that all of a sudden, as if miraculously I knew what they were doing. They were waking up, eating breakfast, making love, laughing, fighting, going to work, telling jokes and wanting to be understood. It was at that moment when my notions of foreignness faded.

bon voyage mr. kellman

Ryan Kellman

Two days ago I drove my good friend Ryan Kellman to the San Francisco airport. Ryan is heading to Tirana, Albania on a Fulbright scholarship. He will be living there for ten to twelve months all the while photographing the city and his experiences. And I imagine that there will be some interesting times, according to the BBC:

Currently, the city suffers from the problems of overpopulation, such as waste management, lack of running water and electricity as well as extremely high levels of pollution from the 300,000 cars moving around the city. The problem is exacerbated by an aging infrastructure. Despite the problems, Tirana has also experienced a very rapid growth in the construction of new buildings, especially in the suburbs, where many of the new neighbourhoods do not yet have street names.

Congrats and Good Luck Ryan!