i am a father
November 25, 2014 - single portrait
“what do you do?” “i am a father. three kids and my baby carries the fourth.” or was it the fifth?
jeremiah is one of the frequent customers in the ski inn in bombay beach, a very small trailer park community right on the east shore of the salton sea, the largest lake in california not many people ever visited in person. it was a very hot day, about 45c degrees and the aircon in the shabby little bar provided wonderful cool air like paradise. “i hear a woman” an old drunken guy yelled when i stepped in and said hi. women seemed to be a very rare specie in this etablissement, i assumed. i ordered diet coke and wendell, the always smiling but never talking owner, handed me a can. his wife (probably) made fresh fries.
jeremiah moved to bombay beach a couple of months ago. probably that’s why he still was in the mood to talk and laugh, not yet dried out by the heat, the stinky sea and the catatonic stiffness this place seems to cause in people’s mind. they are all friendly and kind, though. he was born and raised in the area, his mother was used to work in the local grocery store. he loves the desert. i can totally understand that, but i secretley believe that some social restraints forced him and his family to move to this god-forsaken place. he likes it, he said while playing with his glass of bud light, and i believed him – somehow. he talked about his passionate fatherhood, that his kids got homeschool and that he just wants his best for them. looking into his red face and boozed eyes could let you make a hasty judgement: that he is just an unemployed alcoholic who is too uneducated and irresponsible to stop making babies and to provide his children a better chance to make a living, and all the self-righteous rant. but when his phone rang, and he talked to his little son there was love, understanding and protection in his voice. and when he talked about his wife, he called her baby and said with a smirk how beautiful she is. many children in this world are not gifted by a loving father.
it’s just a different kind of world, a world beneath of what we think is average and normal. it is the other side of america, the down side, which is the much bigger side but only a few people and less tourists ever know or want to realize, but inhabited by big-hearted, honest and beautiful people.