Jung once said you can tell what a society holds most dear by looking at its tallest buildings—World Trade Center in New York, where business and money dominates, chapel steeples in, I don’t know, someplace religious, and where my parents live in South Orange County it’s the Nordstrom’s parking lot.
But I believe you can tell what a person holds dear by what they won’t let you touch.
My father’s a car nut. Every weekend he dragged me down to a car show, at age seven he started teaching me how to tell the difference between a small block and a hemi. Nothing pissed him off more than spotting finger print smudges on his shiny black cars.
My mother was a picture taker. You know the type that makes you smile and say cheese on your first days of preschool to grad school, first time spending the night and the first time voting in a presidential election. Our library at home is not filled with books, rather with photo albums. Every year she makes one for the family and one for each of her three kids. And she would never let us look at the pictures until they were safely behind those clear, protective laminated covers, for fear that we would put our grimy little kid fingerprints all over them.
Maybe, unconsciously, I learned to truly appreciate the things that I wasn’t supposed to touch. Maybe, like the soccer moms of orange county that can’t help but notice and be drawn to the towering parking lot of Nordstrom’s as they take their kids to school day in and day out, I am drawn to the things that became sacred in my house. Maybe that’s the reason that I have become a photographer obsessed with taking pictures of cars.