Then I become aware that someone’s watching me. A lady. THE lady. Lady Liberty.
I say out loud to myself, all David Byrne-like, “Who is this lady?” “Why is she watching me?” “Why won’t she leave me the hell alone so I can get on to the airport and not miss my plane?”
But she’s like that talking sign in LA Stories that won’t leave Steve Martin alone. Or like when you’re in the presence of a beer-drinking bear in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and you know deep in your bones that you just can't not stop. This is a moment for the ages. No one’s going to believe you if you don’t take a picture.
All I have with me is a little point-and-click camera. There’s no way I can do justice to her from the highway. There’s too much traffic and she’s too far away to be anything but a speck on the screen. So I hustle off the closest exit in search of a better shooting position.
Here, deep in the American South, an immense scale model of the Statue of Liberty keeps watch over a stretch of suburban Interstate highway. But instead of "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free," this lady beckons well-to-do, SUV-driving suburbanites to an executive office park and exclusive housing development where the masses are kept safely at bay outside the gate.
And wouldn’t you know? When I finally get close enough to take her picture, the only perspective I can get (thanks to those fancy gates meant to keep the likes of me out) is from behind. Back at you, lady!