“La cruel realidad”, or the "cruel reality", is an ongoing family photo project of undocumented families living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The aspiration is to visually depict the familial fragmentation that occurs when undocumented parents are deported and their documented children remain, often left in limbo.  Several of the families worked together to choose the name of this project, stating this was their life, their reality and though it was a cruel one they would do whatever possible to remain together.   One of the families I photographed recently asked that I no longer share their image citing fear of retaliation and deportation. When we began we had over 20 families excited to participate, many saying that for the first time they felt empowered to have their voice heard and to in some way ask the public to see them as fellow human beings.  Since the Trump administration began cracking down on undocumented migrants the project has come to a near halt. The families that were once encouraged have been silenced.
       
     
 nyctophilia: (n.) love of darkness or night; finding relaxation or comfort in the darkness
       
     
 At midnight, on August 18th, 2017 I brought in my 30th birthday at Joshua Tree National Park. As the clock ticked twelve I was on top of an enormous boulder, staring up at the night sky, so dark the Milky Way seemed to be within reach.  I slept under the stars that night and woke thankful to be 30. Over the course of the previous two weeks, I had covered 7451 miles of road stretching from Pittsburgh to the West Coast.  I saw the Badlands, jumped from a cliff in the Grand Tetons, hiked  20 miles to sit on top a mountain in Glacier National Park, drove the back roads of countless small towns, saw the beauty of Mount Rainier and Crater National and stood in awe at the vastness of Yosemite.  I got a tattoo in Venice Beach, watched the sun set into the Pacific Ocean, drove the 101 down the Oregon coast and spent 12 hours alone with the Giant Redwoods. Along the way, I was touched by fortuitous encounters with strangers that led me down paths I could not have previously planned or imagined. I saw old friends and made just as many new ones; for all of this, I remain grateful.  It is hard to articulate what this type of trip does for the mind, body and soul, but there is something about unfettered, solo travel that is cleansing and renewing.
       
     
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