More than ever I feel undercover, living a life of increasing dualities. I wake up at dawn and hit the road in my broken down bitchmobile, trying to glide over the pot holes without jarring the stack of books off my passenger seat. To hell with the suspension, I\’m just tired of crawling under the dash to find my copy of \”Camilla.\” I\’m the white girl cruising through the so-called minority neighborhoods (whose ethnic make up is actually the majority in this city of mine) in a machine more hoopty than any self respecting 15 year old from Dun Bar would get into during the light of day. That\’s okay, though, because it\’s at dawn that I ride.
I used to hope that no one would see my camera. I used to wish I could blend in — perhaps anonymity would save me. Now I just don\’t give a shit; nine months of this has made me brazen. I go to work in booty shorts, flip flops, chimpanzee bed head, and spaghetti strap tops that even a college frosh would balk at wearing. I park my vehicle in a tow zone on a side street, then make my way across North Capitol. I stand in the middle of the noon day traffic, oncoming vehicles honking at me, men whistling out their windows as I grind my naked toes into the burning hot asphalt. Ten minutes, front and center, staring down the Capitol building… finally I have the shots I need.
Before I walked out into the street I passed a pleasant woman who appeared to be returning from work — the graveyard shift, though not at the graveyard across the street. Maybe morning classes at nearby Howard or Trinity. Who knows? We nodded, I walked into the street, and she walked into the house I was drive-bying: a lovely yellow rowhouse, recently renovated with care. She could have been the owner, or a relative of the owner, or perhaps just a tenant. \”Just\” a tenant. It\’s not \”just\” to me because I know that whoever she is, soon she won\’t be able to live there anymore because the bank is foreclosing on the house — mortgage payments late. House is being seized. Maybe she\’ll go passively, at the first notice. Maybe not. Maybe she\’ll put up a fight, be the type that the police finally have to escort out at the end, throwing possessions down onto the street in front. There\’s no room to do that at this house — you can\’t even legally park in front of it — but that doesn\’t stop the police. I\’ve seen them dump shit into morning rush hour traffic on Florida Avenue. Some people are so callous. There hasn\’t yet been an eviction I have been privy to where I have not cried.
When Jamie visited me, he came to work with me for a little bit. On that particular day I was only doing houses and condos in NW, which meant he missed out on the dirty work. One pseudo-mansion in the Georgetownish area sparked the conversation, if I recall correctly: I spoke of how about 90% of the properties I get are houses in areas of lower income, and the other 10% are people who at some point had an extraordinary amount of money. It hurts me to do my job, knowing that I\’m working on the \”evil\” side at the moment, watching all these stories slip through my lens without a full E! True Hollywood Story on each of them. In my mind, it\’s unfair — I think everyone deserves an equal chance, and that everyone\’s story is important. It\’s people\’s lives, goddammit, not fiction. Anyway, Jam asked if it didn\’t make it feel just a bit better, watching the rich get served with papers just like the poor. That kind of hit me, because before I started this job I suppose I did have that sort of Robin Hood mentality — kick the rich as much as possible to make up for the differences. I don\’t feel that way anymore, though. Rich, poor, or inbetween, these are all people, all human. Who knows what happened to make it come to this? Illness, death in the family, maybe the financial supporter cut off support, maybe a job was lost… who knows? That\’s not information I have access to. But these people have feelings, and some have family — significant others, kids, parents, pets — who are all being kicked out of their homes. On eviction day, everyone, no matter what the status of their bank account once was, has the same hollow look in their eyes. When we fall, the world may see a stumble, but no matter who we are, to us it is always an earth quake. At that point, class becomes as irrelevant as protesting the Republican National Convention.
Maybe that should be a separate rant, but hello, maybe I\’ve become jaded again or maybe the wool has come over my eyes, but why protest the RNC and not also the DMC? I understand protesting the Republican exploitation of9/11, and yes, that\’s understandable, but just to protest the Bushies in general makes no sense. The same people who were protesting the two party system as a one party non-system for years ago are now waving the Democratic banner and deciding that the lesser of two evils isn\’t really evil after all — just a douche bag. Well maybe douche bags need to be shown the light as well. The Democratic party has largely stood back and rolled over for Bush the past few years, just as the Republicans managed to puppetteer Clinton for most of his last term. Not showing the rage that you feel toward the Democrats just because they have a candidate who is not Bush, is not the answer. Voting in more of the same is not going to help.
Hurricane Frances is supposed to smack Florida in two days, right where my family and my boyfriend\’s family live. I\’m thinking of going down there next week to provide whatever I can. Climb through wreckage and help my uncle write up insurance claims on all his properties. See if my grandfather and grandmother pulled through. Make sure the kid isn\’t sleeping with her bicycle helmet on again. You know, those sorts of responsible things. I can\’t remember what it\’s like to not be responsible anymore. I can\’t remember being a kid. Fun, I still have, but \”care free\” I know nothing about. I guess this is being an adult. And apparently I\’m really damn good at it, which scares the shit out of me. But I guess my grandfather was right, and I am the strong one, after all. I can\’t imagine how he feels right now, with his wife of more than sixty years dead. I don\’t want to talk about it. It\’s the only thing I won\’t talk about.