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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

toys

We were walking on the street and there was a toy gun on the ground. I saw no children around, and in one action snatched it up. 
E looked at me.
"Isn't that someone's toy?" She asked.
"We'll bring it back when we are done with it." I explained.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"I think they didn't really want it anyway." She said.

The plastic gun with its bright yellow handle sat on the windowsill by my desk for a few weeks. I used to shoot a BB gun when I was a boy. My brother had one too. My father had guns in the house, for hunting. Sometimes the only reason there was meat on the table was because of those guns. The Lone Ranger was a big deal back then, more interesting, more accessible than Superman or Spiderman. He had a pistol, and a horse. I used to walk around the hallways of my elementary school squinting into the distance because it seemed that was something that cowboys always did, especially the Lone Ranger on his Palomino.

As soon as we left the farm, guns were no longer fascinating. I preferred cameras, watches, a cheap guitar. The Lone Ranger doll, broken and scratched was forgotten. It never even made the move to that small town. Something flipped over. It was David Bowie and Kurt Vonnegut, the B52's and The Clash that littered my shelves then.




I try to create projects to do with E in the summertime, while all of her friends are in their country houses, or in Italy or Miami, Thailand, some places she cannot even find on a map. These collaborations are distractions, and they are a joy to create. I script and concept and she reads all of my notes. I show her the way I develop ideas. Sometimes we shoot a little test, and she hovers behind my shoulder, munching on almonds as I manipulate the footage. She nods sometimes. It all makes sense to her. The story is a tough one, and we handle it carefully. She does not shy away from the truth, but we don't push it.

Then we record, we shoot, we edit, I make some music, we mix, we re-record the narration, the colors all get adjusted, graphics, and then it all percolates, like a pot of chili waiting to thicken, maturing. We watch a screener. There are always a few little cosmetic fixes, but it works.

She cracks one of those quiet, satisfied smiles. She understands why I took the plastic gun from the ground a few weeks ago now.

It had a story to tell.






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