Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Moving...

Something I posed on a previous blog - February 2007

This is a personal experience/column-type assignment I had to write for my magazine article writing class. I hope everyone enjoys it. It was thoroughly satisfying to write. :)



I don't exactly remember how I found out my parents were moving away from my childhood home but I do know that I wasn't happy about it. After all, it was the place I had grown into the person I am today. This event triggered many emotions in me, such as anger, sadness, confusion, and perhaps even a bit of excitement.
Despite the fact that we moved there when I was 8-years-old, the white ranch-style home has far more memories than I can even begin to recall. It was where I had celebrated 14 birthdays and went through a terrible bout of pneumonia—leaving me hospitalized for nearly three days. I had my first sleepover there in the not-quite-finished basement. I experienced pacing back and forth in the living room—anxiously awaiting the arrival of a date for my first school dance. I remember receiving my first car one warm October night, as friends and family gathered outside, laughing, as I stood speechless in my driveway. I remember ominously hiding myself in the blue depths of my bedroom as I tried to heal a broken heart.
At first I thought the moving idea was a joke or that it would pass with time. "They can't move," I'd say to myself. However, on Thanksgiving Day, while enjoying a wonderfully prepared meal of succulent turkey, savory mashed potatoes and gravy, and the rest of the works; I overheard my parents inviting my grandmother and aunts over to see the new house. It hit me like a ton of bricks. New house? So it was happening after all.
That day, I remember standing outside the new house next to my Dad, overlooking three peaceful acres and some cows. "You guys will really like it," he said. "And someday your kids are going to love it—they'll have so much space to run around." I sighed.
Coming home on the weekends, I slowly witnessed the transformation from home to empty place of residence. It was exceedingly difficult. I had moved to an apartment about two months before, but seeing my empty room was heartbreaking. I stood in the middle of the room, surrounded by an endless sea of blue walls and closed my eyes. I brought myself back to the day when I moved in.
It was snowing. I jumped into my bed, savoring the new smell of the room and took pleasure in having it all to myself. I didn't have to share with my sister. My parents had bought me a brand new bed and my Dad had built shelves in my vast closet so I could put my books. I had a picturesque window that would let light stream into the quaint bedroom. I spent many hours seated comfortably in that window, reading a book or listening to music.
I could still see how everything was organized, too. The bed was situated to the right of the window. Underneath the window, was my piano. My dresser stood next to my closet. On the walls, I had various Incubus posters and a gigantic painting of "Starry Night" by Vincent Van Gough. Underneath the piano, I had drawn the cover of an Incubus album. I remember Mom being terribly cross with me for that. "I thought I broke you of that when you were two!" she lightheartedly exclaimed.
I can see myself, too, lounging on my bed with a book, my cat lying next to me. I can even hear Incubus playing on my stereo. But when I open my eyes, the vision is gone. Only emptiness stands before me.
Throughout the entire house, the same catastrophe was occurring. My mom took down the pictures and put away the delicate glass figures in her hutches, slowly packing the memories away from the house forever. I could almost feel the houses' anxiety. "Don't go!" I imagined it saying. After all, we had turned it from an outdated 1970s house, with brown carpet and orange wallpaper, to a modern and sophisticated home. But then again, if the house had feelings, it would have been sad to go from having little children running through its halls, laughing and yelling, to progressive silence over the years. Maybe it was excited to have little children again. This thought cheered me up—if only slightly.
Finally the day came when it was time to say goodbye. The boxes were all gone and the house was virtually empty. I will admit I was angry. The house had slipped through my fingers—I had been helpless to stop this tragedy from occurring. I was angry at my parents for leaving and I was even angrier at time. Time had caused my brother and sister and I to grow up. It caused us to become adults, with busy lives of our own. We hardly ever see each other. It had taken away people and memories. It had gone by too fast.
But for a brief moment, time stopped. I took a step back and thought about things. I didn't live in the house anymore, after all. My parents, having done what they could for us, were finally free of children. It was their turn to enjoy the peace and quiet of life. This was their choice and it made them happy. Everyone has to grow up, I thought to myself. Everyone has to experience change, including me. I said goodbye to the house and drove away. It was hard to let go but it had to be done.
The first time being in the new house was different and even more surreal. It didn't look like a home. Eventually, however, the boxes were unpacked and things I recognized were set up. It's beginning to feel like a home—though it may never be my home.
Since moving to the new house, I've been to the old house once. I drove by slowly one evening and saw strange vehicles parked in the driveway. When peering into the open windows from the warmth of my car, I saw odd furniture and unfamiliar faces. They were smiling and I knew immediately they were happy. The house looked warm and comfortable. "At least they're happy there," I thought to myself. I silently wished them and the house good luck and drove on.
I know I won't forget that house. I can't. This moving experience has opened my eyes to having other perspectives. I've learned to be unselfish. I'm open to change—even though I was unwilling at first—and I'm willing to give the new house a chance. I can build memories there and eventually, so will my children.

Coloring...

Something I wrote Aug. 28, 2007....

Where am I? Why is it so dark?

I am blind as I grope around for something in front of me…anywhere around me. Where's the damn light switch?

Ah. Here it is.

Hello. Where did you all come from? Each and every one of you…peering so fervently into the window of my life—my soul. But why are you blurry? No one has faces. You're just figures and shadows mingling like dreams and reality.

Am I real? Is the world really real? Are you real?

Think about that.

Who are you? Who am I?

I was born into this world nearly 23 years ago. Weird, huh? I remember thinking when I was 10 that I'd be 30 in 20 years. Twenty years seemed like an eternity.

Crap. I'll be 30 in about seven years. Dammit. Where does the time go?

Before I know it, I'll be 80 in seven years. But hopefully I'll be a cute old lady with five cats and a big garden. I'll live with my husband who likes to stand over me while I'm gardening and take pictures of my flowers and, of course, me. I'll likely protest the entire time saying my hair is too white or I have too many wrinkles. And he'll dismiss the notion and say I'm beautiful. And he'll keep snapping away.

Speaking of old ladies...I met a woman once, who wore an old wrist watch attached to the front of her shirt with a safety pin. She had, at one time, dark brown hair but now...years later, it was streaked with grey and white. She wore a red fuzzy sweater in the middle of August and smelled like cats. But in a good way.

I nonchalantly asked her about the watch, saying that now anyone could see the time. She waved away the notion simply stating, "It's been broken for years. I haven't bothered to get a new battery. The joke now is 'watch it.'"

I like old people. Most of them, anyway.

Life's funny. I have a cat. I want one more when I move someday. I hope he or she doesn't grow up and pick on Isabel. Speaking of her….she is going to hate a new cat. And I'm quite nervous she'll disown me because the little kitten might take my undying affection off of her for just one fraction of a second. Hmm.

And what will I name him? Such decisions…

Decisions. I hate decisions. I wish I had an invisible friend who could whisper the correct answer into my ear. That'd be nice.

I remember when all I had to decide was if I was going to go outside and ride my bike or stay inside and color a picture. I still color pictures.

My parents moved last February and just recently I asked my mom where our coloring books were. "Why?" she had asked me.

"Because I want to color," I had said back.

After shuffling through boxes and boxes down in the basement, I came up with one and a half coloring books, a huge box of broken crayons, long ago dried up markers and broken colored pencils. It was funny to sift through the pages of the brittle and yellowed coloring books and see half colored pages and a few finished masterpieces with names and dates written in the corner. They were old. Some at least 10 years.

"Mom," I had said when I came back up. "When grandchildren come…you should consider investing in new supplies."

The next time I came home was for my Dad's birthday. I saw a whole bunch of presents on the table and underneath them was a huge coloring book and a giant box of crayons. Thinking hard, I couldn't come up with any cousin's or godchild's birthday. When inquiring about it to my mom, she said, "They're for you. You wanted to color."

I was in shock. A giant coloring book full of blank pages. It was a dream come true.

Why can't life always be so simply entertaining?

My decisions now consist of what class to take, how many hours to work, whether or not to put my $300 bill of school books on a credit card or a debit card, where I'm going to work or what I'm going to do when I graduate. Will I have to move?

Decision scare me now. I despise thinking of them as they only cause gut-wrenching butterflies to escape into the depths of my stomach. My soul.

Maybe that's what you all are. You're all just a big mass of decisions. You're blurry because you're undecided. Well go away and really, I don't care if you come back some other day.

I'd rather live my simple life spontaneously and randomly. Yeah. That'll be just fine with me. Give me coloring books and crayons and that'll suffice me just fine. I'll just color my life different shades and hues. Won't that be interesting?

On the Mindless Menace of Violence...


Robert F. Kennedy
City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
April 5, 1968

"This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again."