BRB

It’s been more than a month since our last blog post and I can’t help but feel guilty for abandoning our baby so quickly. Miri and I recently moved out of my family home and into our dream apartment five minutes away from the water in Alameda. This is our first ever apartment together (although we mostly lived together in Vienna, we still maintained separate addresses) and while it is more than exciting, it is also more than enough work for two people. The picture frames around the apartment still hold the black-and-white photos they came with of a pretend bride and groom, holding hands and kissing. I like to point these pictures out when we have friends over and ask them if they like our wedding pictures. Unpacked boxes still sit on the floor of our bedroom, begging to be disposed of. There are no pictures on the walls, yet, and our balcony, despite having a fair number of potted plants, still lacks a table with chairs. On top of all of that, I’ve been spending every weekend of the past month helping my mom move stuff out of our house so that she can start renting it out in June.

I wish I were the type of person to find busyness motivating. You know the type I mean? These people are so highly-productive that they don’t seem to know what to do with themselves when they don’t have a thousand items to cross off in their weekly calendars. They thrive under pressure, love competition, and become increasingly productive the more they load onto their already overflowing plates. Alas, I’m the type that freezes rather than flourishes under pressure. When I have a long list of things to do, all I want to do is just curl up in a ball on the couch and watch TV. I guess you could call this my sad attempt at ignoring work into nonexistence. So far this hasn’t been a very successful strategy. Once I feel like I have to do something, I immediately don’t want to do it even when I genuinely enjoy what I feel like I have to do. Isn’t that strange? This is sort of what happened with the blog. It quickly went from being something I was doing for fun to something I felt I had to do (i.e. not fun), so I started procrastinating writing new blog posts to the point that I almost stopped thinking about the blog at all. I am constantly amazed at my inane ability to dissuade myself from doing the things that make me happiest. You know how they say “You are your only limit”? It’s true. I really am my biggest limitation.

In addition to my general laziness, if that’s what you’d call my adept knack of stunting my own progress, I find myself wondering why I’m even bothering with this blog. Aren’t blogs inherently narcissistic? Shouldn’t I be somewhat embarrassed for even writing one? I have the feeling I’m shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” into a black hole in the vast and ever-expanding space of the Internet, only no one is there to hear my vain cries for recognition because I’m in space and everyone knows there is no sound in space. Is there actually anyone out this reading this besides my mom? (Hi Mom!) Wait…does my mom even read my blog? Do I care too much to start with? This question makes me think of a picture quote I came across on Instagram the other day that read: “People used to keep diaries and would get mad when anybody read them. Now, we post stuff online and get mad when people DON’T read it.” I couldn’t help but laugh. Am I one of THOSE people now? The thought makes me shudder.

I originally started this blog because I wanted to bring my love of photography, travel and writing to life. I have SO many pictures from all my travels that I’ve done absolutely nothing with and it feels like such a waste to just let them sit there. I constantly browse through other people’s blogs and travel photos on Instagram and every time I do I can’t help but think I could be doing the same thing just as well, if not better than many of these people. The only difference I could discern between them and me was that they were actually doing it while I was over here sitting on my bum, criticizing them for even trying, and even arrogantly assuming that I could do it better. Yeesh. This thought makes me think of another relevant quote: “Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.” I don’t want to be a critic. I want to be a doer. I want to be someone who tries and who also encourages other to try. After all, I would rather try and fail than never try at all.  Starting this blog has been a humbling experience simply because I realize how insignificant my blog actually is. I know I can take good pictures, but are my pictures so good that are instantly recognizable and distinctively stand apart from the tens of thousands of travel photos posted on Instagram every day? No. No, they are not. But here’s the thing: realizing and embracing this fact has led me to my real path and the ultimate mission of this blog. What is it that I can do better than anyone else? What can I do that nobody else can? Tell my story. Tell our story. I have this feeling in my gut that I was always meant to share our story, long before I knew what the story would be. It’s a true story of true love—the story of how my husband and I fell in love with each other while falling in love with the world. But I don’t want to just give away our story on our blog, which is why I’m going to be taking a break from the blog to spend less time editing pictures and more time writing.

We’ll come back to the blog, eventually, but for now, you can follow us on Instagram if you’d like to continue seeing pictures of our travels: https://www.instagram.com/theadventuresofkaefer/

Bye for now!

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Dreams of My Father

I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately as the seventh year anniversary of his passing approaches. As many of you know, I decided to study German in college and spend my third year abroad in Austria and Germany because of my dad, Gene Bryant.

My dad was stationed in the army in Austria in the 50s (a trick of fate that he didn’t get sent to fight in the Korean War), and there cultivated his life-long love for the Germanic culture, with its history, classical music and opera, Bratwurst and Bier. As a kid, I poured over my dad’s army photos, fascinated by pictures of my youthful, confident father and his army friends taking on Europe. These pictures showed my dad as a young man I never knew (he was 58 when I was born) and a very interesting Europe that was in the process of rebuilding itself after the war. My dad never became fluent in German, but, fifty years after being stationed in Austria, he still studied his German books, teaching me such useful words as: Schweinhund, an insult that literally translates to “pig dog,” and Mach schnell, hurry up. When my dad passed away during the spring of my senior year of high school, I returned to his army photos and felt this incredible urge, maybe even compulsion, to visit the places in the photographs and learn to speak German. However, I was not prepared to meet my husband, the man who would turn my world upside down and who would mark a before and after in my life.

Looking at his pictures, today, I am stunned by the fact that I not only recognize but also know so many of the places he photographed. What was once an intangible dream–living in Europe like my dad–became a reality for three years and will remain an ever-present memory. I can only imagine what it was like when my dad was there in the 50s. He never liked to talk much about the army, although it’s pretty safe to assume looking at his pictures that he’d had a good time. I think it made him sad that he didn’t keep in touch with any of his friends after they got out. I remember prodding him once about it when I was 15. I got him to agree to let me use an online search engine to look up a few of his old comrades. Fifty years had passed since he had spoken to any of them. I managed to find the phone number of one of his friends in Chicago, whose name I can no longer remember. I shared the news with my dad excitedly. But it turned out we were too late. My dad called and his friend’s wife informed him that his friend had passed a few years prior. That was the first and last attempt my dad made at contacting anyone.

Reflecting on everything that has happened in my life, I see the truth in the saying, “Sometimes the bad things in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” When my dad died almost seven years ago, I never would have imagined that this tragic loss would somehow put me on the path to finding my future husband. As a photographer, I guess it’s fitting that my dad’s photographs were what inspired me to move across the world and learn a foreign language, thus falling in love with a Slovakian-born, Austrian accountant in the process. 

In short, the worst thing I’ve experienced in life has directly led me to the best thing to ever happen to me. Without my dad’s passing, I have no idea whether I would’ve chosen to study abroad in Austria or if Miri and I ever would have found each other and fallen in love. The universe works in mysterious ways and although I miss my dad terribly and will never stop feeling the pain of his loss, I still thank God for the seventeen years we had together and for turning a tragedy into a blessing by connecting my soul to Miri’s. Love is the most powerful force in the world and it will change your life, if only you let it.

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