Everyone called him “shroom.” Must be short for mushroom, but I don’t know. He would stand at the bus stop at Cherry and Church. Everyday, until recently, I’d see him whenever I went out for a walk. He wore a black coat, more like a cape, the only coat I ever saw him wear. He had a leather hat and reflective sunglasses.
I’d nod and he’d nod. Got a “whassup” every once in a while. He’d just stand there looking back and forth. I asked one day what he saw, “everything,” he said, without explanation. Never got a sentence out of him, though I tried. Not that he was unkind or unfriendly. I just wasn’t one of his crew or into his business.
When you see a person over and over, you feel like you know him. Taking photos the way I do requires a relationship, even if it doesn’t involve the exchange of personal information. People express themselves to photographers through appearance and gesture. The interactions lack actual intimacy, despite putting the three of us, him, me and the camera, in close proximity. So, it’s odd that I would have any feeling about his death or the loss of another person whom I know from the street.
If you wonder what he died of, I was told long ago that he had lung problems, exacerbated by who knows what. He smoked. They all smoke, even if it isn’t healthy. A reliable source said that’s what killed him.
Kim Mason died of an overdose of anti-depressants. She danced with death many times trying to rid her body of evil spirits. Always loving and kind. People couldn’t help her enough, though Howard and others tried. The demons were just too scary. In and out of places. Always adjusting her meds. They needed an exorcism.
I knew her. Met her in Rutland, years ago, or maybe it was Bennington. Don’t remember. But we were friends for ten years or more. She’d hug and kiss me when she saw me on the street. Sometimes when I’d ask how she was doing, she’d put her head on my shoulder and cry, leaving her makeup and her tears all over my face.
A long time ago, I introduced Sharon to her. Kim would ask how Sharon was doing, even if I hadn’t seen her for a long time. She and Mark were together for 35 years. How does he go on? How do any of us?
So, I went to Woodstock, Center of Photography, for a landscape workshop with Greg Miller. No sharp light. No long shadows. Almost no color.
The frogs and caterpillars hadn’t left, but they were cold.
The snakes still slunk around.
And, the birds were everready.
Don’t really care about perfect weather. There’s always something to shoot.
So, I develope a photograpy business and live an evolving marriage. People still want to define us, err me and her. Just today. And you don’t get to know what we talked about or what we belive in.
So, my friend Marc Madarazzo lost his job at IBM. He has “rocket scientist” smarts, an MIT degree and and ability to see the future. No jobs here for him, yet. How much talent sits on the sidelines?