The Rose Bush and the White Woman
I’ve been wandering the hills above my neighborhood with my camera and a vintage lens. It’s where multi-million dollar homes sprawl among tidy bungalows. The bungalows were built when L.A. began to grow, and this area grew wild orange groves. These houses lie tucked among them, wearing the breath of nearly a century of lives within their walls.
But then there are the mansions. I imagine the people there aren’t very friendly or neighborly, or they feel like they don’t live in a society and shouldn’t contribute in any meaningful way. I want to know why any single-family home should occupy so much space. It’s as greedy as the massive SUVs that sit in their driveways. I didn’t want to sit on my judgment or even recognize I felt it. I wanted to let it pass and not rob me of my joy wandering those tree-lined streets. The wealthy will always be with us, and they’ll always take far too much. Getting mad about it will only waste energy, the energy I’ve precious little to offer.
But today, as I walked up a little street, I felt the presence of a vehicle creeping slowly behind me. I didn’t think much of it. At 9:30 a.m., cars, trucks, and construction made their noise as they navigated one another. I tried to stay out of the way. I turned up a street to find a peaceful place and some interesting shots. As soon as I did, I walked about 25 feet and saw a rose bush I wanted to shoot. I love finding fleeting moments of decay. At that moment, I became aware that a vehicle was behind me and potentially following me. As I bent down to get the shot, I turned to look at who was behind me. A white woman my age with dark hair and sunglasses in a massive white SUV saw me see her, and immediately, she recoiled, put the truck in reverse, and backed out in a three-point turn at the intersection behind us.
“Oh,” I thought. “She didn’t recognize me and didn’t like a stranger in her neighborhood. She felt she needed to intimidate me to get me to retreat.” It’s funny, I think about that look of surprise. It carried a flicker of embarrassment as I turned around. Her startle startled me, but I remained impassive and curious as I watched her disappear. I took my shot of the rose bush and finished my walk. She’s not the first white woman in that…