Culture and Society
Every few days or so, when his loneliness becomes impossible to bear, Rodrigo leaves his Manhattan high school and goes to Central Park. He wanders off the paved roads and makes his way to the secluded, wooded trails, just a few blocks from the housing project in Harlem where he grew up. There he drifts and waits. He might lean against a tree or roam along a trail. Eventually a man will show up.
My first day was unbearable, much worse than I could have imagined, a textbook lesson in humility. My strength, stamina, and intelligence — in other words, my superiority — ended up not being worth a bent nail. Stepping onto the job site that first day at 6:45 AM, I had no idea what a hod was, even though the word had been embedded in my family lexicon, seared into my unconscious.
I invade people’s lives for a living. At dawn I climb ladders to their second-story windows and fiddle with their locks. I place flammable materials in their garages and wake their sleeping dogs. I meet flannel-robed housewives as they hurry their husbands out the door.
From 1992 to 2007 Martín Weber photographed hundreds of Latin Americans, each holding a chalkboard on which he had asked them to “write down a wish or a dream you have.” His goal, he says, was to give his subjects added dimension by allowing the viewer a glimpse of their personal stories. In their brief messages we see evidence of economic and political struggles, of human failings and aspirations, of broken hearts and enduring love.
The nature trail closest to my house doesn’t take me to any overlooks or waterfalls. The scenery is a few flat acres of meadow grass, a shallow pond, maples, and oaks. On a map the trail would form a blocky figure 8, like the digital number on a gas pump, but there are no maps of this park, and the only visitors live within a couple of miles.