Sons and Daughters

"My childhood and young life in Alabama were steeped in poverty, loneliness, and feelings of disconnectedness from my blood-kin. I responded to my family’s perceived shortcomings by shaping my life into one of drug use and heavy drinking for a period of time before leaving home. I eventually forced myself out of that lifestyle and left everything and everyone behind overnight in 2013 when I married my wife Hannah and moved to Louisiana for graduate school."

I returned to visit after two years of self-induced exile. After the first pilgrimage, I began to understand the frailty of my family and my childhood home. The rooms I remembered have become hollow shells while my own bedroom has been sealed away and untouched like a memorial. My mother and grandmother have become older. I see them now and understand the loneliness they carry as the burden to my leaving.

When I stand in my grandmother's house now I feel larger than I remember. Or maybe the house feels smaller. The ceiling hangs closer to my head and the floors feel more delicate. When I walk, I hear my footsteps echo off of the walls in the back rooms. The home I remember best has become brittle in my absence and I feel like it will never regain that solidity. When I return home to photograph, I feel I have to look with soft eyes and touch with soft fingers for fear it may all fall away.


- Zachary McCauley