Tom: Western Cape

151 x 102 narrative

I don’t even remember where this is exactly, just that it was on a road trip with my girlfriend (now my wife) and that it reminds me of the wonderful road trips my dad and I took soon after arriving in Cape Town. To me there is something as iconic about road trips through the South African landscape as the fabled Great American Road Trip: there’s heat, weird characters, deserts, mountains, epic distances and internal and external challenges to overcome. It’s probably true of road trips in general, but it seems especially so at the southern tip of Africa.

Tom: Toronto

102 x 151 narrative

My whole life I’ve been surrounded by water – in Toronto I grew up on an island, just a short ferry ride from the city, and in Cape Town I live on a peninsula, flanked by two different oceans. The irony, of course is that I’m a terrible swimmer and terrified of water. When I was a kid I watched a doccie about whales at Harbourfont with my parents, and when the whales (and the photography) went deep down into the murky oceanic depths, I slid down in my chair with anxiety. It was the same effect that watching Aliens in the cinema had on me as a teenager.

This image is pretty iconic to me: the boardwalk and its loooong concrete wall, which stretches all the way from just past my mom’s house on Ward’s Island to Centre Island in one long, unbroken, slightly rounded, slightly bumpy reassuring mass. And underfoot the uneven soft, warm and yielding boards of the boardwalk, making their still-familiar thunk-thunk-thunk when you run on them. Except not in this image, of course, because it’s covered in snow, which is also pretty iconic of Canada to me. And the lapping of the waves, gentle and insistent all summer long. In the winter ice forms across the beach and at the edges of the lake, but the water keeps on lapping.

Tom: Cape Town

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It feels like I spent my formative years flying to places. My parents split early and I travelled back and forth between hemispheres for over a decade; they were very good about sharing time, despite the great distance. I was pretty travel-savvy by my late teens and enjoyed planes and airports with a familiarity probably unusual in someone my age. I enjoyed another ten years of solo adventuring and bouncing between continents before finally settling down in Cape Town. This image says that there is, literally, no place like home for me. Toronto is where I grew up and will always be familiar and safe-feeling; my big North American city that’ll never grow so big that it alienates me. But Cape Town is where my people are – the friends I came of age with – it’s the place that adventure brought me to, and I’ll never take that lightly. Living in South Africa feels a little like living in the Wild West, where the rules are fluid and you do what you have to do to get things done. That freedom is invigorating.