A World Apart

Eric Gibson in Park Hill, Staten Island, NY. Photo by Ruthie Ackerman. New York, 2007.

Today was a day of connections. First we met the Tucker brothers. Then Carmina, Eric's aunt, came to meet us to give us some documents to bring back to Eric in Staten Island. When Eric and his family fled they didn't have time to pack up their papers — birth certificates, diplomas and the deed to their house were left behind.

It was so strange to hear Carmina speak about Eric as she remembered him — a skinny 16-year old kid who liked to rap. I know him as a grown man — 34-years old, struggling to keep his head above water in Staten Island.

We spent a few minutes speaking about Eric and his mother and talking about the lives of Carmina and her two sons. As Carmina and her sons got up to leave they asked if Eric and his mother had asked me to bring anything back for them. I shook my head no, and a moment that should have felt buoyant was tinged with disappointment.