Wounds, Old and New--Ours Too
It hit us the other day. In all the miles we have traveled, no one has refused to talk to us. Not a single person has asked me to put away the notebook or raised a hand to block Michael’s camera.
This surprises us.
We’ve been journalists for years, he three times longer than me, and we’ve had doors slammed in our faces and been called names for the simple fact that we showed up at a time when a person wanted nothing less than to talk to the media.
We expected to encounter a bit of hostility on this trip. In a few rare cases, we’ve even had escape plans. They always end the same: If we get separated, meet at the car. After all, we are stepping into unfamiliar places and asking people questions even their friends don't broach. How much do you make? How do you use the restroom in a place with no running water? Do your children look at you differently now?
But, from homeless camps to upscale neighborhoods, there have been few pauses, few hesitations before the answers came spilling out. It’s as if the recession has changed what is acceptable to talk about. As if now that there is something bigger than all of us to blame, we can show our wounds.
It has probably helped that Michael and I have shown a few of our own along the way. How could we not? How could we listen to people talk all day long about hardship and not be reminded of our own brushes with it?
“I can describe four types of trailers because I know what it’s like to live in them,” Michael said one day.
He also knows what it’s like to sneak cans of tuna because he was hungry and to be served sugar sandwiches, which are exactly as they sound, sugar between two pieces of bread. I used to eat chip sandwiches – again, made exactly as you'd expect.
Still, we are well aware of the differences between our stories and the ones we’re hearing now – we had no way of knowing what we didn’t have until we had it. The people we are meeting across America knew they had something, often had worked hard their whole lives to get it, only to lose it in the last year or so.
Their wounds are still painfully fresh. The fact that so many are willing to show them to us, knowing we will post them here for thousands to see, must say something about this recession.
Posted by: mmrafferty | July 21, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: win_harrington | July 21, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: elainemeinelsupkis | July 21, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AlexaGarciaDitta | July 22, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sandrags | July 23, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.