If you know anything about my hometown of Kansas City, then you know that July is hot. Heat and humidity roll east across Kansas in great drenched waves, taking your breath along with it. I shot these photos in July several years ago. My mother had just died. I was very unprepared for her death and very unprepared to surrender my childhood home to strangers.
The ironic thing is I spent most of my youth figuring how to get as far away as possible from this house. On summer nights, I would sit on the driveway for hours and watch the passing cars rush off. Later when I was in high school, we would go ‘parking’ on a little bluff overlooking the municipal airport. The attraction for me was almost never the boy I was with. My mind was on those airplanes… and being on one of them someday.
I did make it onto one of those planes after high school graduation, more than twenty-five years ago. I have since made an uneasy and complicated alliance with my childhood. But I sometimes feel that I was forced to abandon the house and my life inside of it, before I could completely make sense of it.
These photographs were taken in my last moments in my house.
Zeva Oelbaum is a New York based photographer. Her photographs are in several museums and corporate collections including the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the Polaroid Collection. Widely exhibited at venues such as Bonni Benrubi and Robin Rice, both in NYC, her work has been written about in the New Yorker and the Village Voice. Rizzoli publishers will publish her first book of photographs in the beginning of 2002, followed by a second book slated for the coming winter. Zeva has taught workshops at the International Center for Photography in NYC and studied anthropology at Brandeis University. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, she lives with her family in Montclair, New Jersey.