The planners and dreamers are back at work, trying to come up with a solution to the blight in eastern Baltimore. The neighborhoods along North Av south towards the American Brewery (along Gay Street) are in a state of absolute depression. More vacant dwellings stand than occupied ones. The grocery stores have left, while the corner liquor stores operate daily. The children that live there can only play in the street or inside.
But Johns Hopkins has been working at acquiring a bunch of acreage and wiping the rowhomes off the map in order to develop north of the hospital. Meanwhile, Baltimore City plans on trying to get at least 100 homes in order to spark redevelopment north and west of where Hopkins has been demolishing.
Eric and I returned to the old American Brewery building, and people were busy inside, pounding beams together to reinforce the structure. The rain beat down on us, making me too lazy to pull my flash out and get that wet, in addition to my D2H as we knocked on doors to ask people's opinions. Turning the corner from Gay Street, we were invited inside Tyrone's home.
He loved to talk and told us how he had lived in the community since he was a child. But just up the street was Miss Ayda (not her real name). I love elderly women, especially when they have an attitude. Miss Ayda invited us in, but immediately covered her head with her hands, exclaiming, "But don't take no pictures!"
She told us how she stopped caring like she once did. "You get too old to worry about things," she said. "When it's not fun anymore, you just stop doing it." I was mesmerized by her stories, and wanted to absorb more of her 93 years. As she shared some thoughts about her parents ("...That's their names, but that's not my name," she said, forgetting that her mail was lying on the kitchen table), Eric started reflecting on his own deceased father and mother. For a moment, I forgot about photography, and simply absorbed the heart-felt thoughts that Eric revealed about wondering how many times he may have hurt his father or mother when they were alive. "I miss them," he finished, as Miss Ayda shared the pain of her adopted son turning mean on her. "Why do people get so mean?" she asked. With only the sights and words to gauge any kind of answer, I could only guess that his service in Korea may have changed him.
We then took to searching for any photos of Miss Ayda that may have been hanging or sitting in the living room. She had plenty of photos of cousins, children, grand children, and friends. "Can you even find one picture of me?" she challenged. "Go ahead; look around," Miss Ayda boasted, as I entered the living room. "Is this you?" I asked, knowing it couldn't be. It was her sister, but she told me to keep looking.
"Oh, I see you!" I said confidently, staring at the image of a woman's picture in the center of a cluster picture frame.
"What makes you think it's me?" Miss Ayda asked.
"Because you look like you're ready to kill the one taking your picture," I replied.
She burst out with laughter, her grey ponytails bouncing as she slapped her knees. The spontaneous words, "I love you!" jumped from my mouth as I reached for her hand, kissing the paper-thin skin. Even though she held firm, I so wanted to take her photo. Not for publication, but for myself. So many people see through their pictures. They want to capture a moment as a way to try preserving it forever.
Yet everything lives for but a moment in time.
PS: Check out Stars Of The Lid, if you like ambient music. I'm listening to some on iTunes, through SomaFm. It's spatial music, but it was nice to hear while writing this entry.