Target: Fairfield, New Jersey, Covid Summer, 2020
Photography by Leeta Harding
Rachel Jamison Webster
We Are Not All Orphans
I’m at a conference where I have to state my argument in three sentences to the person sitting across from me. She and I have never met, but we are both part of a group that teaches women and people of color how to pitch their writing so it can enter the public conversation.
“Culturally, we are moving away from the bootstrap narrative of upwardly mobile individualism,” I say, “toward a story shape that is more collective and communal. And this shift is being helped by our evolving understanding of DNA and ancestry.”
I’ve always been fascinated by gators—there’s something seductively simple about a life of natural law and rote response, all dead eyes and sinew and death rolls levied upon unsuspecting wildebeest. I consume gator documentaries, have spent hours scouring YouTube for videos of their visceral, primordial force. And I never understood a thing about them until my wife and I, visiting New Orleans for our first real vacation together, decided to take a gator tour.
Even though there are stainless steel appliances and a new floor in this photo a realtor posted back in 2012, the tiny rooms, two-car garage, and square house are still face-forward and midwestern like a textbook standing on a shelf. Redfin asks a simple question on the front of the website: “Is this your home?”