Walking. With Jack Kerouac.

5:50 am. 35° F.  299 consecutive days. In a row. Cove Island Park. Daybreak morning walk.

Three cars in the parking lot. Mine. A pick-up, with its occupant with a baseball cap over his eyes, car running.  And her subcompact Subaru, hatchback up.  It’s dusk, but I can see into the boot. Overflowing. Blankets. Boots. Boxes. Some spilled to the ground. Homeless? Living out of her car?

Late 60’s. She’s struggling to put on snow pants, one hand leaning against the car to keep balance.  She catches me staring.  “Good Morning,” I offer. She replies in kind. I turn away.  Give her her space. 

I walk.

I can’t shake the image. Alone? Lonely? Cold? Hungry? 

Warm morning, quiet, windless. Now, Heavy. It would have been easier to stomach if she was male and younger.

Mary Oliver: When one is alone and lonely, the body gladly lingers in the wind or the rain, or splashes into the cold river, or pushes through the ice-crusted snow.  Anything that touches.

I walk.

299 days. In a row. And I’ve not encountered this. I’m on the backside of my loop, and there She is. Left hand swinging a metal detector in a wide arc. Her headphones, over her blue wool hat, listening for the cackle of buried metal.  She stops, pokes at the dirt with her pole and keeps moving between the rocks on the shoreline.

I swing my camera from my right shoulder into position. Adjust the focus, once, and then again, and again. I slide my index finger to the shutter button, where it lingers for a split second; in that same split second, the metal detector rests, and she’s now staring at me through my camera viewfinder, through the long zoom lens, her face, her eyes, all bearing down on me. Damn!

She lifts the metal detector and continues — swinging the metal detector in a smooth, quarter moon arc, now with her back to me.  Myopic? Nearsighted? Has to be. No, she must have seen me. 

Never one to have learned a lesson from one near miss, I need to get the shot. I have to have this shot.

I swing the camera into position, focus, re-focus, move the finger over the shutter button, and fire. Sorry Mam, for the encroachment.  

I’m walking back to the car, passing her hatchback, which now sits in the parking lot, quiet, all things now safely tucked away in the boot.

My heaviness for the Homeless having lifted and shifted, to Me.

And Jack Kerouac, “so therefore I dedicate myself to myself, to my art, my sleep, my dreams, my labors, my suffrances…my unique madness, my endless absorption and hunger — because I cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being.”


Notes:

Comments

  1. With Jack and Mary, I say… and quite the deep thoughts for a Sunday. We do feel less guilt if they are back to us, don’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Of course it’s awkward, not only to see something somewhat inexplicable or mysterious, and misery knows no bounds, but neither does love.

    It might have been Ram Dass who said something like – don’t feel guilty, it serves no one. “Be kind, love everyone and tell the truth.”

    I try to remind myself that images are mostly what we are given and that their beauty lies within a capacity to say more about life than we will ever be able to.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I never could do that. No pics of people who don’t know that somebody takes a pic of them.
    I never had the ‘courage’, determination, the je ne sais quoi to do that. And I don’t like it when others do it.
    We were still very new to Paris when we were present at a place where a gay manifestattion took place. I didn’t even realise what it was. I just took pictures, because it was one of the first times in Paris. Then a guy jumped from the band wagon and swore at me that i had no right to take pictures of him and his friends. I was gobsmacked and told him I had no intention of photographing him and his pals; that they were of no interest to me… And he was SO mad at me because i took no notice of their demo…. Still, I shook like a leaf because How could this guy dressed up like a parrot accuse ME who always makes sure that all is ok-dokay, of robbing a pic of him?
    I have just finished watching a series of English series from the 60th where ppl were beach combing for metals. Made me smile – but how you pulled Mary Oliver’s perfect words out of your wooly hat – THAT was a master piece!
    I may not always agree with you but you sure keep me on my toes. Happy Sunday (or what is left of it).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We’re all still kids, only in a much bigger neighborhood, now. If one has to play by herself at times (and maybe also lives in some hidden hell), at least she has been seen — and greeted. And photographed! (Perhaps not for the first time.)🌷

    Liked by 1 person

  5. our reality, thank GOD for the open eye to see others around us

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Something to consider…when I was able I i would keep, $1’s & protein bars -dispensing out the car window and sometimes $5 dollar gift cards to Trader Joes or another local grocer…when it was safe to approach a person I would ask how they are & if they were hungry if the said yes I’d offer to buy them a pre-made sandwich or salad from the store deli and a non alcohol drink Or I’d hand them a gift card to the store they were in front off…only once did a person say no to the protein bar or offer of food…he said I want money…A friend and her husband and another couple noticed some homeless folks living in a car go into I think it was a church…these people had the means to insert cash ($20’s) in through the crack in the car window -they said they just emptied their wallets and hoped it helped the folks have a few days that were easier and to know that they were loved…Perhaps if you see here again you might have a gift card to a store or Starbucks tucked in your camera bag…often folks will say no thanks though they would like to talk for a moment to enjoy another’s company… now I rarely get out and I can’t spare any cash…though I do prayer for those i see…and those I don’t see…Kindly

    Liked by 1 person

  7. an interesting encounter and observation. i wonder if the image she projects to you is not her reality. i’ve learned in life that you can never presume to know someone’s life base upon their appearance.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What I love about your post DK is that none of us know why this woman is living in a car or why she is out in the cold. It could be a choice? And maybe this quote can inspire us to see others in a new light.

    ‘The truth is she didn’t need to be saved. She just needed to feel loved and know that someone out there craved her attention.’
    R M Drake 🙏🏻🌈

    Liked by 2 people

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