Monday, November 19, 2018

Po takes on Vegas

After all these years...
Las Vegas, NV
November 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
If you've followed me for any period of time, you'll know Po. I adopted her soon after our then-toddler son finished his Happy Meal (yes, I'm a terrible dad) and tired of the smallest Teletubby. So she's been hanging off my camera bags ever since, charming strangers in distant airports, offices, and even beaches as my ersatz travel gnome and photographic partner in crime.

I'm so afraid of losing her that I no longer dangle her outside the bag. Instead, she gets her own secure compartment inside, usually buried beneath the power cables, headphones and granola-ish snacks that sustain me when I'm away.

Which explains why I forgot about her until my last night in Las Vegas, which reduced me to an improvised shoot on the darkened balcony overlooking the strip, using my smartphone's flashlight as a fill-in flash to counter the background glitz. The pic isn't pretty, but it doesn't need to be.

That's because Po has never been about the visual. She's more than a little faded, with fraying threads sticking out of places that would embarrass even a fictional, gibberish-speaking, possibly-overdosed TV character. It's what she represents that sticks with me. Home. Family. History. Happiness. Innocence. When I'm moving a thousand miles an hour in a strange place far from home, eating terribly unhealthy food in between fitful snippets of sleep in a sterile hotel room, it's little touchstones like Po that ground me, remind me who I am and why I'm here. She's a slice of my family's story, a piece of us that goes wherever I go and allows me to slow the day down when things seem a tad out of control.

Our son is 24 now and well on his way to becoming the good-soul adult we raised him to be. Someday, he may have a munchkin, too, and I hope he'll find some way to hold tightly to a piece of that little one's childhood for as long as he possibly can. Because the things that connect us often come in all sorts of packages, and introduce themselves to us when we least expect.

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