I had planned to post this picture with an accompanying story about my experience here taking this photo. I wanted to tell you about the people who drove by slowly and suspiciously watching me and wondering what I was up to, what possible interest I could have had in this store. And how nervous this attention made my friend who drove the car. How at first I was relieved that my camera had not exploded (although it did later) but how that relief turned to hesitation when I realized that people were slowly driving by watching me with suspicion and curiosity and hesitation and how normally I am not afraid of people but what a crazy mix of emotions I suddenly felt at that moment and how one of them was fear and how that fear turned to shame for feeling afraid of another person. And how another thought that crossed my mind was the realization that I am essentially a tourist and a visitor in a place where a lot of people have suffered and are continuing to suffer a great sense of loss and hopelessness and that they don't know that I have also experienced these things too.
I was going to write about how heartbreaking this particular place was. This specific place but not the whole. Because there were other feelings too and some of them were not despair or heartbreak or hopelessness but quite the opposite. I wanted to write and tell you how I left this place feeling a feeling that I still don't know how to write with words. That I hope maybe the picture speaks for those words I can't put together into sentences. This is partly why I take pictures -- because I really want to have the words, and while I really try I just can't always get at them to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it.
So even now I am expressing a desire to express something to you because even though I am writing this right now and I am TRYING to say what I mean to say I just don't think it is coming across at all. And maybe I should have just left it without the words and left it up to your imagination. Maybe I should have had enough confidence in the photo that you can get a glimpse of what I feel... that I can communicate with you without forming sentences with words.
The sign in this picture encapsulates the overall feeling I had in my short visit to Flint, Michigan... lost and failed dreams. Unfulfilled and crushed hope. How someone had an idea for a store. Maybe that store would be that first or second or third step forward towards a change in their life. God, nothing makes me sadder than crushed hope... except maybe hope that never was. And nothing makes me angrier too. So angry that hope is hard to come by and angrier still that it is something so frequently crushed. Maybe I'm just making this shit up and I've got it totally wrong. And maybe I'm still not really getting at what I want to say here because it is more than the words I have written. There are other words that come to mind but I can't put them together with other words.
I think of war. And not the war where a country fights another with weapons but the war we wage on each other and the passive wars we wage on people we can't see when we make poor choices in leaders, when we do not lend our support to socially responsible policies, when we separate ourselves from disenfranchised people and pretend that we are also not disenfranchised simply by the fact that this is a culture of haves and have nots and regardless of what side you are on everyone is ultimately getting fucked (although some are also doing some major fucking), and the little bombs we drop when we turn our eyes away and pretend that there are things going on around us that we can't change and that are not our concern and we divert that attention into the house that isn't big enough and the perfection that always eludes us, and the celebrity that can't hold their shit together publicly. I can never really get why we aren't all just a hell of a lot more angrier.
And I wonder these things about myself too. And really all of this isn't to tell you anything at all maybe but to remind myself of what I see, how I see it, what that means to me, who I am, and who I am striving to be.