When a good friend from Australia visited in 2008, our first field trip was to Border Field State Park, south of Imperial Beach. Few places in San Diego have such a defined sense of place. Standing there, it’s impossible not to picture yourself on a map, standing almost atop the line separating the United States and Mexico, in the southwestern-most corner of the 48 states.

What attracts me to that place, though, is more nuanced. The fence there isn’t just the manifestation of a line on the map. It’s the intersection of two worlds, a destination with its own energy. And as much as it is an intersection, it’s also a divider: Urban-meets-nature; poor-meets-rich; here-meets-there.

On that brilliant summer day in 2008, the second layer of border fence hadn’t yet been built, so divided families could still get close, even though they were separated by rusty steel. The monument pictured wasn’t yet walled off and inaccessible. I joked when I met Carlos, the man pictured: “How’s the weather in Mexico today?”

We laughed. “About like it is in San Diego,” he said.

If there’s a magnet at Border Field for my camera, it is this: The place is always evolving. Each time I go, it feels different. At alternate times, the place has felt: Familiar, estranged; welcoming, alien; lush, barren. But always intriguing. Few images I’ve made there in the last four years have captured that better than this one. I’ll share more in this space in the coming days.


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