I return to this image often because every time I do, my mood is different. Or my circumstances have changed. My eye is somehow re-activated by the passage of time and stimulated in response to life’s endless, unpredictable pivots. Returning and thinking there will be nothing new to see, I am made suddenly aware of how an image can represent different things at different times in a person’s life.
In 2023 as summer approaches, I think of those hot days when taking off a hat and feeling the breeze pass through my hair is liberating. My blond, curly locks are not luxuriously black or straight like this woman’s hair, but I am certain she and I share that exact same feeling of freedom. There is joy in movement; our own and that of the air through which we stride.
Of course, I can’t ignore the gold-toned wall and its weathered texture. It speaks to me of history, of aging without losing intrigue, of being both sturdy and yielding. Can a wall tell a story? If any wall can, this one does because, in its very durability, it has been the backdrop to countless women walkers, each with a different story. Maybe the wall has even been beside this woman when she was a girl, skipping and leaping down the street with the confident innocence young people have and we, the adults, work feverishly to retain.
This then, is my story of the City of Gold in Vietnam. This is my relationship on this day to this woman in this scene. Tomorrow, I might return to it and find a new narrative. Or, even better, you will send yours. Together, we will delight in how an image continually reinvents itself in the eyes and awareness of every viewer. How big the world will seem to us, and how small, as we join in seeing the City of Gold.