By the end of the season in Central Asia and Iran, I was torn: stay in Tashkent to unwind and finish the bulks (all my writing), or go back home to New York? The biggest draw in New York was my photo lab: I really wanted to see what I’d shot in the last year and there wasn’t a reasonable way of doing that short of going home and processing my films. I was comfortable in Tashkent and the idea of staying on and improving my Russian enticed me. But Uzbekistan was getting cold and in the end, the films won out. I booked a flight home.
I realized that I had months of raw material in front of me, and I knew that my life in New York would not allow me that time to ruminate and create. But I wanted to see my friends and my films, and I knew I had the discipline to get it done somehow.
That was almost four years ago. I went back home to NYC and managed to edit the films and design the website, but I never finished the bulks. At first that seemed okay, as writing was never the point; it just got me through the rough spots. But the stories still burned in my mind, invading my dreams and clogging my conscience. I owed it to myself and the events that had transpired to process it all. Was this time spent with new boyfriends, new jobs, new apartments and the bedlam that came with them getting me where I wanted to be? Where was I? Gulnara and Valery, Ulug and Anwar all beckoned my attention; I smiled at their memory, and promptly ignored them. I only now realize that I just dropped Mario from the stories when I broke up with him in the summer.
What finally forced me to admit I’d failed myself were the unseemly parasites that compromised my health. I couldn’t get rid of them and I couldn’t digest. It forced me to admit I’d left something of myself back beyond the Oxus and unless I paid it some real attention, it might well eat me gone. Finally, I sat down and began to write.