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the empty

The fat girl as they call her, came to school with a hypodermic needle in her backpack. It may have been to defend herself, it may have been to instigate something. She comes from a broken home and this is her second or third school. E steers clear of her, and the bullies she tangles with. It was never understood  - how things began, who threw the first insult, the first punch, the first grabbed book but the end is a chronic cycle of violence. At one point, the girl's mother got the police involved and this was seen as offensive, a step too far. The police did not resolve anything so it was all just a lot of saber rattling. That is the most common sound here. The empty threat.

Last week, there was a sobrani, sort of a cross between a parent-teacher conference and a school meeting. I was busy, so E went by herself and took notes. Five minutes in she messaged me, that I was wise not to be there. Nothing about this girl was going to be resolved.
"Boys will be boys" was all …

3 chords and the truth



video

My daughter sings with me sometimes, I think for the same reasons I do. Happiness multiplies when it is shared, and sadness fades when you find yourself strumming and warbling away, especially with company. Inspired by the most fundamental elements of her life, E improvises lyrics about playgrounds and the tulips, about the wish for a little sister. She takes pictures with my cameras too - self portraits, blurry snapshots of her toys, leftover wrapping paper from her birthday party, a scraped knee, her favorite pants. 

I used to sit next to my father in his studio, a stump of charcoal in my hand, learning to draw. Learning to draw the light, not the objects I thought were there. Draw what you see, he told me. It was so quiet there. Maybe the dog would be sniffing around or sleeping heavily. Just the scratch of the paper, the tinkling sound of his paintbrush in water, or turpentine. The light would just hang there, tiny bits of dust drifting around in the afternoon light. I was never tired or bored or hungry there, in the attic with him.

she goes to sleep
then she wakes up
she colors her hair
and goes to school
she wears red shoes
and every time she wants
she goes to the playground

I find it fascinating she sings about this other girl, although the details are all from her own life. There is a big difference between, "I go to sleep," and "She goes to sleep." E is singing about the routine of life, and all that is familiar to her.

But I know she has never seen a lemon tree. That's the part that blows my mind. I see her processing sadness and disappointment, turning it into something to share with the world. I see her joy, the small freedoms she feels and how these are there too. And I think she knows all of this.


Comments

Annie said…
Ah.... and why would she not be extraordinary with a father like you, and apparently some artistic wealth in the genetics?

That moment when you were the child drawing...could see it...see the dark and light contrast, hear the silence...how exquisite the contrast with the bright and tuneful present....yet parallel.
I was reading and my little one, (just turned 4) heard your gal's voice, stuck her thumb in her mouth, gathered her blankie, and snuggled up beside me to listen!
We both enjoyed a "Expat's Baby" singing!
Precious. And she can really sing!
Rabbit blogger said…
annie, jojo - it was wonderful to wake up on this side of the world and find your comments. E's little cousin in the US had a similar reaction, and was singing along with us yesterday. sometimes the world feels so very small...
april said…
completely beautiful

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