Full Circle

January 20th, 2021

The Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris happened today without disruption, and I for one, am so happy. It’s been a year since the Covid19 Pandemic took hold in the US, and almost a year since the first Stay-At-Home orders in Los Angeles on March 13th, 2020. I started this blog not long after with a self-portrait of myself overlooking downtown, and thought another one today would bring us full circle.

Below is the photo from this spot in April 2020 of an empty 110 freeway.

And almost a year later, at 2pm on a Wednesday this 20th day of January 2021, it’s still sparse of cars, we are locked down again and have been for weeks. But we have a new president, and that sociopathic autocrat that encouraged an insurrection and failed coup, is out of power.

I watched the inauguration with great relief. I cried when Harris was sworn in, I cried when Biden was sworn in, I cried with each song and each speech, and even when Fire Captain Andrea Hall delivered the Pledge of Allegiance. When I realized she was also signing it, I lost it. Amanda Gorman’s poem, lost it.

I have not cried during this year of unending stress. The grit that is a big part of my personality just makes me focus and persevere. It’s been a hard year, but I have suffered worse. Others have suffered worse. I feel lucky that I have had a job this whole time, and although my husband Matt has been unemployed most of the time, we are lucky he received unemployment for many months and is back to work. I’ve gained weight, (um yes I photoshopped that photo and made myself appear thinner, because I can), I barely exercise, my hair is falling out, and I’ve been drinking too much. And today I cried, but not because I’m sad, because I’m relieved.

So I felt good. I got my camera gear together and went to take this photo.

Then I went to Costco.

On my way out of the store, I got in line to grab a hotdog from the costco commissary. There was a guy in front of me moving in and out of line and being odd. As the line moved up I asked him if he was in line. This 30-something asian man turned toward me and said “yes”. A quick assessment, I saw the bottom of his pants were tattered and there were large scabs on the front of his left hand. I thought he might be homeless, and now I was certain.

“Do you have some change?” He asked.

“Can I buy you some food?” I asked.

“Yes”

“Want do you want?”

“Ice cream sundae.” He said.

“Are you sure you don’t want something more substantial like a hotdog or something?” I asked.

“No”

“OK what flavor?”

At that point he decided we were in line together and he put his hand on my cart handle. I stepped back. “What flavor?”

“Strawberry”

“OK”. I said, and extended my arm, palm out toward him, in a push away motion. “But you have to stand away over there.”

He shyly stepped back, eyes smiling, and then went and stood by the wall asking others for money. The casher looked annoyed and had obviously been dealing with him hassling customers for a while. I ordered his strawberry sundae, my hotdog combo, and paid. I walked over to him, “Here’s your Sunday”. He thanked me and went back up to the window to ask for a spoon, which they would not give him. You have to get the spoon from the drink dispensary lady, so I asked for one and then went to find him again. He was now standing in the return line. He had a bag with what looked like a brand new blanket still in the package. I figure someone bought it for him and he was going to try and get the cash for it.

“Sir, here’s a spoon.” I distracted him from writing a note on a piece of paper that he held up to the open door. He turned and his brain seemed to click back in.

“Thank you.” He said.

The people in line behind him looked confused. The security guard behind me watched him suspiciously. I went on my merry way. Halfway to my car I remembered I had my camera bag on my shoulder and maybe should have asked to take his photo. Maybe I’ll see him driving out. I did not.

A reminder of the real plight of this time and the reality of what people are going through in this city, this State, and this country. Things are not OK, but I have a feeling they will be one day not too far away.

COVID-19 Pandemic… January 20th, 2021

Photo © Jennifer Emery 

#Pandemic, #COVID19, #CORONAVIRUS, #SELFPORTRAIT, #homelessness, #unhoused

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