So, when I walked up to Glenn in Washington DC’s Georgetown my first question was; “Do you speak English?”.
“Yes… very well,” he offered. In town from Providence, Rhode Island to visit family, he obviously spoke it as his mother tongue. And I felt a little silly.
Maybe the question was a reflection of how out of practice I am shooting strangers as I get used to a brutal (and yet very exciting, positively awesome) workload in the start of my new job. Maybe it’s because my last few trips have been shooting strangers around Europe, and so English hasn’t been people’s first language.
Or maybe, it was Glenn, who’s idiosyncratic style was worn with such an affable totality I really did think I’d just bumped into Proust’s intellectual cousin.
Agreeing to a quick portrait, we walked along to a bright snowy alleyway along the side of a bar where my colleagues were busy chatting and drinking and watching my bags.
Asking if he’d stand in the slightly slushy snow, I noticed Glenn was sporting a fantastically unlikely pair of bulky neoprene boots that would have looked more at home at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. They were well chosen for the weather – not too chilly, but very slushy – and whilst visually at utter odds with Glenn’s get-up were nonetheless perfect in terms of his eccentric spark of charismatic genius.
My late grandmother would have made such a choice, and reveled in the confusion she’d have inspired in the multitudes who cannot separate what is expected of them by others, from what in fact delivers the greatest utility, absent judging eyes. I’d dare say it’s a trait I have too. We had a short conversation, I did my best to juggle three reflectors (my neoprene boots, if you see what I mean) and I hope Glenn saw a trace of fellowship in my soul – as I did in his.
Glenn – thank you for taking a moment out of your afternoon. I’m delighted to have met you. Hopefully you had a fantastic trip to DC and a safe journey home.
This is portrait #76 of my 100 Strangers Project – check out the group page and get involved.
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