Life has inertia. It rolls on even when we tell it to stop. I make pictures and tell stories, and that keeps me busy and gives me a sense of purpose in the world. But now, that world has gone away. We told it to come to an end a couple of weeks ago and it did. It makes sense, of course, it just doesn’t “make sense” to the me that does things. I’ve been struggling in this new world, afraid every minute I’m going to make a miss-step and die but finding it necessary to go out into the world or be overwhelmed by the sadness of doing nothing.
Just before they announced Shelter in Place for Los Angeles, my wife and I drove down to Desert Hot Springs and spent three days in the desert. That would be me, 78 and my wife, 69, prime targets for the invisible enemy, right? We took the chance that we knew enough about how things work in this new world to beat the odds, and as of this writing, it seems we were right. I’ll neither brag nor bore you with the precautions we took, they don’t matter. The question is, why did we do it?
We went because fear is further away when you are walking in the landscape, and for a little while we didn’t want to live in fear. We went to be together far from other people and to feel our bodies relax. We went because it was my birthday.
I understand this may not be possible for you right now, and I am sympathetic. One of the unexamined gifts of Los Angeles is how spread out it is. The thing we have always complained about suddenly a virtue. If you’re situation is dire, none of this applies, but hope does. I hope wherever you are, you can walk outside, careful and observant. We are made for this world.
I made iPhone pictures while we were there, just snapshots of sky and land, people scrubbing their hands, and empty spaces. The new normal. For the time being, I am released from making “real” pictures, serious ones for others. Instead, I am free to make these casual images of the day.
So this is what Joshua Tree and Desert Hot Springs looked like last week. I hope there is a park or a street somewhere close for you. Some place where you can walk for a few minutes, even if it’s just while going to the store. A place where you can stand at peace for a minute while we wait for this moment to pass.
Andy Romanoff – Correspondent of The Eye of Photography
Andy Romanoff/Words: Stories I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You
Andy Romanoff/Pictures: Andy Romanoff Photos