I walk behind the camera and steady my gaze.
She sits down slowly, turns her body counterclockwise toward the camera, lowers her head and looks sideways into the lens.
At that moment, I take the shot.
I look at the back of the camera and zoom in to check focus and the light pattern falling on her face.
“My name is Teresa,” she says.
Teresa speaks in a low, raspy voice and tells me how she likes reading, writing, and photography. She likes to read science books, particularly medical books and tells me about a leveling and mapping system she is interested in called Hierarchical Pattern Mapping.
“I’ve been out here about a year. I was living in a house and there was violence and a criminal case, and we couldn’t go back there,” Teresa says. “I own the house too. It’s in Oak Park, but I can’t go back.”
I study the image we just made on the back of the camera. To me, Teresa looks like a young woman ready for school, not a 55-year-old mother of five living alone in a tent on Ahern Street. In this way, she is so very similar to many of the people I meet at Loaves & Fishes.
Teresa stands up slowly as our conversation winds down. “I have to do something else, I can’t be outside anymore.”
She pauses and then tells me, “These are all the seconds of my life.”