Walking. In White.

3:35 a.m. Restless. Lousy night’s sleep. (Again.) Co-pilot is fast asleep next to me. She dreams of bunny rabbits and puppies. I’m being chased by failure and mortality. Any wonder why you don’t sleep?

Yesterday morning: “Are you getting tired of the same walk?” Translated, she’s getting tired of flipping through the same shots, the same landscapes, morning after morning. “No,” was my monosyllabic response, short, curt, clipped, after 3x years of marriage (I didn’t want to do the math), there was no need for more words.

4:28 a.m. Gear check. Backpack. Camera. Battery. Memory Card. iPhone. Earbuds. Audible Book re: Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking.  I adhere the strap to my right wrist, synch it up, and clip it to camera, listening for the satisfying snap. Secure.

4:33 a.m. I’m out the door.

Day 5x something, just shy of two months. Not a single day missed.  Same route. Near the same time. A five mile walk.  Walmsley to Linden to Hollow Tree Ridge Road to Hillside to Anthony to Brookside to Post to Weed Avenue to Cove Island Park. And back again.

Scene 1.  I’m 1/4 mile out on Hollow Tree Ridge Road and a patrol car stops one street up. Rare to see any traffic this time of the morning. He pauses under the street lamp, looking in my direction. He sees: Man, 6′ 1″, black long sleeved shirt. Black pants. Carrying something black in his right hand. Backpack on his back. Walking briskly.

He loops around the next block away from me.  I keep walking.  I hear him approach behind me. He passes by. He sees: White man, camera in right hand, backpack. Not the profile of trouble. He keeps moving.

I keep walking.

Scene 2: One minute later, a man on bike approaches.  4:37 a.m. He calls out to me. I’m startled. I can’t hear him over the narration of Wanderlust. I toggle off the sound.  “Excuse me?” I re-grip my camera, and tug my backpack tighter to my body.  He repeats the question, but I don’t understand. I don’t speak Spanish.  “I’m sorry. I still don’t understand.”  He closes the gap from the middle of the street to the sidewalk, now five feet away from me. I step back.  “Sir, Exit 9, Exit 9?”  “Down the street to Post Road, there, down that way, where it ends, turn right.”  “Thank you Sir.”  He speeds off.

Exit 9? Ah yes, where the day laborers stand, the undocumented workers who wait for work.

I walk.

Scene 3: Three minutes later, I pass a house on my route. Cape Cod. American Flag flutters gently in the morning breeze. Rocking chair out the porch, waiting for Mom to come out with her morning coffee. The motion detector goes off each time I pass, lighting up the front porch, the garage and the sky blue colored front door.

The patrol car passes again. If it was 25° colder. If I was wearing a hoodie. If I was Black, or Brown.

I walk.

I reach Cove Island Park.

I can’t shake him, the Young Man on his bike. Did he find Exit 9? Will he find work today?

I readjust the camera in my hand, and readjust the backpack, both seem to be weighing heavily now. Your bag and your hands, full of Things.

What’s that you’re carrying? What’s that you feel?

Shame, that’s what you feel.

 


Photo: DK, 4:41 a.m., June 30, 2020. 67° F. Humidity 94%. Wind: 5 mph. Cloud Cover 37%.

Comments

  1. Your walks reveal so much more than you capture in your camera lens, my friend….

    Liked by 4 people

  2. a walk where you were reminded of, and felt, your privilege, and it was uncomfortable.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. This is one of your best and most poignant…you notice what you are noticing and help us all. Thanks.

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  4. That is a walk that slowed me down too. I felt the weight of THINGS…. A discussion I had 2 wks ago with another white person, who confessed to be afraid when crossing a black person. Me trying to take the fright away off those shoulders, explaining, telling stories of my life abroad where all colours under the sun live together…. but the Angst was there and stayed. I couldn’t have been convincing enough…..
    Also thought of HH who wd never take a photo for me (when I am driving, for example)…. saying: Take your pics with your mind not your smartphone!
    And finally me, just finishing writing two photo cards if my own shots, ready to send out tonight to give joy to two people wen the postman cometh….

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Beautiful. Poignant. Pointed.

    In Calgary, that ‘Exit 9’ is at the corner of 11th and Centre St. Men stand on the street. Waiting. In hope. And fear. If they picked up, will they be paid? It’s worth the risk.
    Years ago, while researching teen prostitution, I worked with a group of street teens on creating a play that would somehow bridge the gap between their world and ‘main street’. As part of my research, I stood out on the street one night as a prostitute. I knew most of the girls on that street. I’d interviewed them, had coffee with them, gotten to know them. They were grateful I was there. I always remember one of them telling me how my being willing to just listen, without judging, meant so much to her.
    I was ‘safe’. I had two undercover police officers watching over me.
    It didn’t matter.
    I was scared. Terrified. Fear ridden.
    And… without realizing it, (until I realized it) standing in judgement.
    I wanted to hold a sign in front of me that said, “I’m just here for research” so that when the cars of ‘mainstreet’ folk drove past, they’d know I wasn’t really selling my body for sex. I was educating myself.
    It stunned me when I realized the import of that thinking. I didn’t want ‘mainstreet’ to think I was ‘one of them’. And yet, I was there because of ‘them’. I was there to understand but my understanding of what ‘mainstreet’ thought of ‘them’ was getting in my way.
    Anytime we are able to stand in our own biases, our judgements, our ‘us and them’ thinking, and see ourselves, in all our flaws and humility, we are given the gift of awareness and awakening.
    Your solitary ‘white’ walk in the dark was just such a gifted moment.
    For me, that night on the street has enhanced my life tremendously. As did all of that work with street teens and within the homeless-serving sector.
    And when we can walk in the gifts we’re given of understanding, we create a more understanding world.
    Keep walking my friend. You are creating a more understanding world.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Adding another burden to a heavy soul…and yet, our souls should be heavy – with moral outrage adding to thoughts of mortality and legacy…And our hearts must be buoyant – for without that lightness we cannot move forward

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You don’t have to apologize for getting your life together or for being white or for not wearing a hoodie..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you, DK!
    YOU have no reason to feel shame! None of this represents you, my friend.

    Thank you for taking all of us on your walks every day, and especially today.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Daily routine … in quarantine? … “Day 5x something, just shy of two months. Not a single day missed. Same route. Near the same time. A five mile walk. Walmsley to Linden to Hollow Tree Ridge Road to Hillside to Anthony to Brookside to Post to Weed Avenue to Cove Island Park. And back again.”

    Like

  10. Very poignant, David. I love when you do these deep shares. Your honesty is always a moment that helps us to stop and think, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I dont know that this has come up at your site here yet. I’ve written about this a lot. I moved from Texas to Detroit when I was five years old, just in time for the riots. Just in time to give me a different perspective.
    Before we moved, when I was four, I was out in the garage and knocked over a glass jar of nails. glass everywhere. My dad came out and wanted to know what happened. I told him a little black boy had come through and knocked it over. It was so ridiculous dad couldn’t help but laugh and spanked my butt.
    We learn it at a very early age. I’m sorry if I already posted the story about the nails here. I tell it a lot, especially lately. I wish it was my only story like this.
    https://srevestories.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-least-racist-person-i-know.html

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I am now reminded of the invisible knapsack that I carry 24 hours a day. Awareness requires change, IMO. Photos and profoundness; thank you, David. Cher xo

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Dave, all the reasons you were uncomfortable, are the reasons why I as a Black man would not be taking that walk early in the morning. I just don’t know the outcome and fear for the worst.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. beautiful post, David. It’s too bad there was no interaction between you and the cop, even just a simple wave or a “Good morning”…
    I hope the guy on the bike found some work

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wow. Yes, a portrait of white privilege in America. Let’s stay aware. It’s exhausting to see what is going on–has been going on–for so long. I can’t imagine how exhausting it is to be living it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. We live in a crazy world…and an even crazier country. It’s so sad to me. My grandchildren are half Nicaraguan and it’s just crazy that lately I’ve been wondering if I need to talk to my daughter about having a discussion with her son now that he is 14. The burden carried by anyone who is not completely white should be enough to weigh us all down and make us want to take care of our brothers and sisters on this earth. Thank you, David, for your amazing writing and awareness. You are a gift to all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Beautiful and poignant.

    Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks

  1. […] at David Kanigan’s blog today, “Walking. In White.” he asks himself, “What’s that you’re carrying? What’s that you feel?”  He responds, […]

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: