Emily (6), Twin Falls, Idaho
Drowned in dark thoughts I wander through a big Walmart in Twin Falls, Idaho. It is the intense gaze of a young girl that brings me back to earth. In times of despair the look of the kid is comforting as well as painful: the ultimate imagination of innocence, which only a child can show. Sitting in a shopping cart, being pushed by her big sister, the world is passing by.
I would love to photograph the girl. I nervously approach them, scared of being rejected. “Is your mom here too?”, I ask. “She in the restroom, but she will be back soon”, the sister says. Meanwhile the bright blue eyes of the little girl are starring right through me. I try to keep the conversation going, without appearing to be a creepy stalker. When the mother joins us, the big sister has already found me on Instagram and wants to take a selfie with me. Mom is keeping an appropriate distance and I see her – understandable – concerns. I give her my phone number and await. Not much later I receive the message I was hoping for: “You can come over.”
The name of the girl is Emily. Her intellectual disability sometimes makes things harder, but because of the loving presence of big sister Kenzie (15), brother Lucas (8), mom Ashley (40) and dog Piper she can move quite carelessly through life. In contradiction with a lot of struggling parents, her mom has, with the help of school and doctors, paved a way through the complex American bureaucracy with as a result a happy, healthy kid in school. “Without the help I could not have done it.”
Like a little kitten Emily plays in the grass. Continuously she is approaching me closer and closer, followed by running away or hiding in her pink jacket. Everything is sweet about her. Her light, fine hairs, the bread crumbs on her chin, the small hands which are holding a (still frozen) peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the nearly rolling tear that arises because of the wind and the accompanying booger
An innocent child. Freely she rolls through the grass and I roll with her. I want nothing more than to forget or not know – it works.