I hadn’t seen him in the back seat of the car, laying low, surviving like a hermit crab, until after I photographed the frame and wheels of his car and Keith Haring-esque cave spraypainting of hieroglyphics. A rolling canvas of faces.
The man in the backseat walked out as I was reversing out of my parking space, a cell phone in one hand and standing directly in front of me taking pictures in my direction, at first like some retributional performance art, but then perhaps more-so in retaliation.
I rolled down my passenger window and apologized for invading his privacy and that “I just liked the pattern on your car and thought it was interesting, I didn’t see that you were in there.”
“Oh,” the man replied, his tan face and the wide look in his eye, explaining he thought I was with a Santa Cruz group against car living (the name of which escaped me on the drive home). And so I was no longer the enemy. From inside his car, perhaps I was. He shared that he was getting a lot of comments about the car, that the guy he bought it from had discounted the price of the car because of the paintings. Was it protection or was it a liability?
This wasn’t the first sedan-living man I’d seen this week. These were portable shelters, these were indicators of problems with opaque and perhaps impossible solutions, these were predicaments I couldn’t quite tackle.