There are times when I find living in San Diego to be a little strange and unfriendly. Not always—most of the time I'm used to it here. But every so often, in different ways depending on the neighborhood, I'm brought a little reminder that things are different here from how they are where I grew up.
Or maybe they're not. Maybe people are like this everywhere, and I just didn't start noticing until I was old enough to think about it. Or perhaps things have changed, and that neighborly little community only exists in my memory now. In some ways I know that's true; I have a whole series of photographs about the pain of coming home only to find it different.
In any case, this is where I live now. This is where my children were born, and where they think of as home. I wonder what it will look like in thirty years, when they are the age I am now. How it will be different and the same, and how they'll feel about it. If nothing else, one thing I appreciate about this place is that there are all kinds of people here. Many of them are wonderful, some of them drive me nuts. And, apparently, some of them just want you to go away.
There's been a lot of new construction in the neighborhoods where I live and work. The city sets aside certain areas as "wildlife corridors"; the intention is to allow the local fauna some space to hunt, get access to water, breed, and get from one place to another without getting hit by a car. In the ten years that I've lived here, these corridors haven't gotten any narrower, but the edges have gotten a lot more defined as the houses have gotten closer.
Hearing the Song
Although most of the photographs I show here are family-oriented, I have always had a deep connection with landscapes. I grew up in one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world, a place people come to visit from all over the world just to see the hills and trees and rocky shoreline. The few times a year I get the chance to go back home, I always end up taking a bunch of landscape shots. And, indeed, the most landscape-heavy work I've shown is centered there, in my home town.
But although I do take a lot of photos around San Diego, none of them are what I'd really consider straight landscapes. There's some street work, a lot of urban/suburban architectural stuff, a smattering of still life, but nothing really of the land as land. I remember once when Juliette and I were talking about our life in Southern California, I talked about how, as much as I like having friends and having a job, I don't really feel connected to the place. "Back home," I said, "the land sings. I can feel it in my bones. There's no song here, no soul to the land."
Now, I do think it's true that things here are different, and a lot of it has to do with living in a city—something I'm never really going to be cut out for. But, more and more, I'm realizing that every place has some kind of spirit, and if I'm not feeling it, it's got more to do with me than with the place.
I recently signed up to participate in Stuart Pilkington's 100 Mile Radius project, the prompt for which is simply to "document the land using [my] unique voice." I think it's time I learned how to listen to this place, and hopefully this project will be just the kick in the pants that I need.
When I'm stopped at a red light I always find it fascinating to look at what other drivers are doing, especially if I can't see their whole faces. I don't know, maybe that's kind of creepy, but I'm always curious to guess what the person looks like from their hands or elbows or ears, to know what it is they're thinking about or where they're going. There are so many stories happening all around, all the time--in my worst moments it almost feels like I'm drowning in them, but in my best it's inspiring.