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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

adjustments


E does not draw people with one eye any more. She draws pictures of her favorite super heroes now. No more imagined street scenes of New York, no cool girls in high school with striped socks and skinny legs. There is one headphone in her ear most of the time, if not both. She has a soundtrack to her life, pop music on a perpetual repeat. It isn't that I am against these things. She is almost eleven and her life is becoming her own. Every parent wishes for that. It is just an adjustment for me, always imagining her as that little bird that wanted to marry Spongebob, the girl with the box of magic markers and a wild imagination. 

Her guitar stands in the corner of the room like in so many films from the 80s - an idea, a prop, a smart thing to fill space collecting dust. I bring V into the room once or twice a day to bang on it a little, her tiny hand resting on the neck all whoops and howls yanking the strings half by accident. Guitars need to be played or they dry up. They need warm hands and attention. 

A camera stands on a tripod. E is making pictures she does not show me. Maybe they are presents for her friends on their birthday. Maybe they are just an idea and she does not finish them. I don't pressure her. Of course she knows I want to see them but I do not push. She has her own ideas, her own mysteries. 

Sometimes I feel like an asshole, reminding her to wash out her lunch box, to brush her teeth, to take a shower, to clean her room, to throw out a garbage bag sitting on her floor for three days. I am the other soundtrack that repeats reminders, lame chores and sorry news. But, she does her homework all by herself. 

She keeps tabs on my progress as I edit the film she acted in. E hovers behind me, mouth twisted as she studies the software, the cutting of masks, the color correction, the stabilization, the grain removal, the grain going back, the finessing. She knows this takes a lot of time and when I think it is getting there, I show it to her. She approves of this tiny face on the screen from a year and a half ago, from a different life. 









Comments

liv said…
All these changes in the things she is now concentrating on. The leaving behind of the "little" thoughts, the thoughts that 1 digit children think and dream. 2 digits is another world. Sigh. For me, a bit sad - nostalgic. But also exciting, she is endlessly full of surprises!

And the picture, thank you - a very sweet treat.

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