As much as I have always wanted to travel and see the world, as much as I have complained over the years about not fitting in in the Bible Belt where I was born and raised, as much as it bothers me to live in the fourth most paved state, I really love where I live! For once, finally, I love where I live.
I live in a part of Greenville, SC called Berea. Greenville has all these different areas and each one has its own defining characteristics. Berea is known for being run down and, I'll just say it, trashy. Much of the population lives below the poverty line. (The median income is $29,137 for males and $21,849 for females.) A year ago when I told folks we were moving deeper into Berea, they made faces, like, are you crazy? Has your family fallen on hard times?
In the past decade or so, there has been a great influx of latinos to this area. I, for one, am thrilled with the resulting bursts of culture. Previously brown, brick, rotting strip malls have been given new life to the tune of orange, teal, pink and yellow paint. Houses have been painted thusly, too! At night, the streets come alive with taco stands and clubs like Caliente and Mexicali. You don't even have to spend money to participate in the night life: folks set up tents and awnings with tables and chairs underneath and just hang out there, in otherwise vacant parking lots.
What I like most about where I live is how friendly people are and how safe I feel. I go to the store late at night and all the faces are familiar. I am starting to know people by name from Harry's Convenience and Liquor Store to the Quick Stop Garden Spot Grocery to Wilson's Five and Dime to, yes, Pizza and Then Some.
Once I get a little more comfortable with photography and people skills, I want to go around the area and photograph locals. I want to show you Wayne, the old man who bags groceries up the street and walks to Harry's after his shift. I want to show you Little Harry who is very proud of his tiny liquor store. I want to show you the divas at Wendy's and the rosy-cheeked boys who make our pizza. There are so many interesting characters! Just you wait.