Stuck in bed for two weeks (dr.’s orders) with bronchitis (bronchitis taking up most of the mattress, stealing the covers) I finally get bored enough to attempt a blog post and find the below already written in my drafts folder.
When I die, I typed with my thumb into whatsapp, spread my ashes in the used camera place on Bennogasse. You might have to make a few trips so the guy doesn’t notice what you’re doing.
Ok, said my kid.
I thought you didn’t want to be cremated, said my wife.
It was more the idea of dying I objected to, I said, than cremation. Also Westbahnstrasse from the vintage camera stores to the apnea diving cafe, and on Kaiserstrasse in front of another camera shop and the photo processing place. Oh, and save some ashes for Powell’s Books in Portland (fiction and poetry section) and the university book store in Seattle (nonfiction).
I was only partly kidding, mainly about being cremated, as my wife figured. But we all have special places we’d like to haunt, or maybe just the ghostly among us.
It occurred to me at lunch that we can also haunt them while still alive, so I took the subway to the 8th district and walked over to the camera shop. The owner is retired and just runs it in his free time because he likes it. He had time for me today and showed me old Leicas THAT WERE POTENTIALLY WITHIN MY BUDGET and a Hasselblad and a Rolleiflex with tilt-shift and a wide-angle lens that focuses as close as you want, I mean, I was focusing it on stuff about a centimeter away before I got tired of that.
The place is in an old shop with old wooden floors and shelf-lined walls covered with the history of photography, all the best stuff locked behind glass.
I’d be happy just standing there, breathing the air, maybe holding out my arms, spinning slowly with my eyes closed but that would look weird and he was there showing me cameras and telling me stuff and even when he wasn’t there, there could totally be a hidden camera somewhere.
Anyway, lovely gear.
Same with Powell’s. You just want to lick the floor. So many books. You want to get locked in at night and sleep in a book fort. And the last time we went to the University book store in Seattle, they had to throw us out. My wife and the kids and I all wandered in different directions and met at the cash register at last call, all with armloads of books, each of us holding a whole different world and wondering how the hell we would get all these books back to Austria.
Other places to haunt: the Virgil chapel in Vienna (at least it was nice before they remodeled it, I haven’t been back since, but I will never forget being all alone there, underground at the Stephansplatz subway station, and the meditative ambient acoustics and dim light). Or wandering the streets of Vienna in miserable winter drizzle.
Or lots of other places, at night, in the early morning, whenever the light’s not too bright.
And in the foggy fields at sunrise. Or right there with you, when you feel alone.
Look for me there.