Washed away

  • Aperture: f/20
  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter: 1/0 sec
  • Camera: NIKON D1H

Gulfport, Mississippi

Tonight I’m tucked beneath a half dozen expensive bed linens in yet another luxurious, non-descript box. Tomorrow I will be in Pass Christian, working on a story for the Monitor. Tonight I am staying in Gulfport, Miss. Tuscaloosa, Pensacola, Philadelphia, Mobile, Boston, Gulfport. They’re all the same, in a way. Random cities. Dots on a map.

I made the 265-mile drive in a little over three hours. The miles flew by effortlessly, neither fun, nor sad, just gravel beneath my tires. If I were in a writing mood, I might tell you about the spit of land between Biloxi and Pass Christian. How there is nothing there. How Katrina wiped it all away as if it never happened.

I might tell you about the stench from the water, the way it blends in with the sky, a beige scar in a barren landscape. How the last time I was here, I was on a thousand mile search for a job, and I was blown away by the beauty of Biloxi, the deep blue water, the colored flags whipping in the breeze, the crazy sand buggies lumbering across the beach. The beach is empty now, for the most part. The flashy casinos are gone, the beautiful antebellum homes are gone, everything is gone.

As I stumbled out to take this photograph, I tried not to stare at the refuse beneath my feet. Wadded up clothing, buried in the sand. Shoes. Children’s toys. Socks. Bits of foam rubber. I felt guilty taking a “pretty” picture. There’s nothing right about this image. Every board on this wharf is gone, and every one that isn’t is damaged. People used to fish here. Lovers used to walk here. Kids used to play here. Now, as the sun sinks into the Gulf of Mexico and dusk deepens, people creep out onto the sand like hermit crabs, cautiously, tentatively. Seeking the familiar, pondering the unfathomable.

The world here is upside down. And I feel it so acutely that it takes my breath away.

Music: Blurry by Puddle of Mudd (lyrics)

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