Senior Love Triangle

Jeanie, age 81; Will, 84; and Adina, 90, are bound by their relationship. “Senior Love Triangle” is a long-term photo documentary that shadows three aged individuals in a romantic conflict. They view their connection as a shield from the loneliness of aging. Even though Jeanie, Will and Adina’s relationship began at a senior care facility in Los Angeles, California, the outside world is more like home. For them, the care center is a reminder of solitude. Attempting to find solace within themselves, they seek escape with each other. In describing their bond, Will shares, “We live above the law. Not outside the law, but above the law. We are not outlaws.” In his late 70s, Will moved into a retirement home where he met Adina. Eventually they formed a relationship and Will moved into Adina’s apartment. After being kicked out of the retirement home for violating terms of his lease, Will moved into another facility where he met Jeanie. Not wanting to break off his relationship with Adina after falling in love with Jeanie, Will opted to continue maintaining his bond with both women.

Through their relationship, Jean, Will and Adina challenge socio-cultural norms projected about the elderly. Jeanie, reflecting on her life, confides, “I do not wish to assume all the garments of maturity.” Jeanie seeks empowerment, reiterating, “I want to be free.” For these individuals, aging is paradoxically a form of both loss and liberation. Attempting to find solace within themselves, they seek escape with each other. When I am part of the lives of Jeanie, Will and Adina, I feel I am engaging in questionable activity, in something different. Each day we searched for a new “adventure,” a purpose. I felt the comfort of being part of the group. But the thrill revealed sadness. I, too, experienced the remoteness that one can feel even when part of the group, or pair. I felt the ache that dwelled just below the surface of their romanticism.

I met Jeanie, Will and Adina at a retirement home in East Hollywood where I was documenting a woman who lived on the 4th floor. One night, I watched Jeanie, Will and Adina walk through the gates; Will had his arm around Adina as Jeanie walked behind them. I related to Jeanie’s separation from them. I identified with the sense that the balance between them could not be achieved. As Jeanie used to say, “To share Will is a thorn in your side. A relationship between a man and a woman is private. It is a couple. Not a trio.”