20 September 2018 at 10:28 pm (Surry Hills, Australia)


It’s not that I’ve led a double life. Not really.

It’s more like several, sequential, sometimes-overlapping (but often not) lives.

I was back in Canada recently, where my parents are (finally) starting to think about moving out of the home I grew up in.

But the side effect of that is, everything in the house has to go someplace else; so the things I left behind, when I went overseas “for a year” (in 1996), now need to be dealt with, sorted through, decided on. And, being a filer - someone who files things - I could hardly just throw everything out.

So one of those bags that came back from that trip was full of paper - and now it’s here. And it still needs to be dealt with.

It’s like my memory split in two, the day I left; everything before then is frozen where it was, in my mind.

I remember shows I saw that year much more clearly than you’d expect, because they were the last things I did in Canada before leaving; so my Toronto-memory hasn’t been overwritten with new things, since then. My New Zealand-memory and Australia-memory must be filed in a different place, a newer part of my brain.

I spread some of the files out on the table, and look. Hard. At myself…at least, at someone I used to be.

Who was that kid? The one with the broken tooth / braces / The Who t-shirt / windsurfer / ponytail / theatre programme / motorcycle; that kid in the Canada’s Wonderland souvenir photo keychain; that guy selling tickets / rallying cars / acting / directing / scribbling in his journal / working on the Olympics / leaving Canada. Is it even the same person, each time?

I see him differently, now - through the lens of watching my nieces grow up, seeing how kids, become teenagers, become university students, and beyond.

Would the kid in those photos recognise me, now? Would he be surprised where I’ve wound up, what I do, who I am? What’s left of him - apart from the tickets, the photos, the stickers, the letters, the journals?

There’s a lot to sort through. But at least he’s here, now. We live together again, my past self and I. And so far, well - he makes me laugh.

Good start, kid. Keep going.

Robert Catto

I'm a Canadian-Kiwi photographer in Sydney Australia, specialising in performing arts, live events, editorial and corporate / commercial work.