Monday, July 26, 2010

Perspectives In Motion

If you stare at an object long enough, it becomes something else entirely.  When you glance from the corner of your eye to the edge of your vision, to your right is a bear!  Or a station wagon.  To your left is disaster!  Or a group of kids milling about.  In a moving vehicle, trees run alongside of you, matching your speed all the way north.  A fire will hypnotize you.  As a child of five, I believed my Grandpa when he told me that if I stared long enough at a campfire, I would go blind.  Grandfathers tell grand stories.  A scar from the removal of a mole becomes a war wound from a bayonet earned while in France, in World War II.  When you're a kid, and your grandpa tells you this, you believe it.  A second scar, along the stomach, was where the tip of the bayonet came out.  Years later, as an adult, you learn about appendicitis, and laugh at your younger self.  You miss your naivety, and crave a return to innocence.  Now, when you believe stories, when you imagine alternatives to reality, you are gullible, not innocent.  Not young. You've put to bed all your playthings, and stuffed them into boxes tucked into corners of the attic.  If, years later, you have your own children, you can unearth toys, dolls, games, and tell your own stories.  Then you get to relive your childhood.  But as an adult, you must alter your perspective to be more grounded.  You are unable to float off the ground and fly, save for one exception: your dreams.

My dreams are always vivid.  I wake up believing they are real.  For a solid thirty seconds upon awakening, I believe that I flew.  I really did save the dragon.  I fought the bad guys.  I ran on the lake.  I escaped the demons.  I kissed the man.  I sung onstage, without clothes on.  In my favorite dream, I was five inches taller.  It can happen.

The next morning, Anne and I giggle together over tea while we nurse well-earned hangovers, and munch slowly on Cheerios and bananas.

We have a day to spend together, and decide to invest in quality time instead of tourist attractions. Which means, we go shopping instead.  She needs shoes, and I need dresses.  That is, if wanting can mean needing.  Ben wisely disappears again until lunch.  Armed with bags full of rainbow colored treasures, we sit outside of a cafe, where we sip on lemonade and trade family war stories with each other.  Ben's family is something of a mystery to me.  I do not know them, and cannot understand how he managed to grow up in Georgia without becoming Southern.  He is such a Yankee, like Anne and I.  He feels more like an East Coaster to me.  When I meet his family in October, I'll be able to see the similarities, and draw better comparisons.

An old man from off the street asks me for a quarter, as we move towards National Mall.  Anne and I are determined to earn some sunshine today.  Our skin is starving for a tan.  I give the man a dollar.  He gives me a blackened smile and calls me beautiful.  I wink at him in return.  Shifting eyes from left to right as we cross the street, I whistle a Tom Petty tune, and sing the words to "I Won't Back Down" off-key, making Anne laugh and Ben grimace comically.  We mosey over to the Mall.  Our happy trio does not feel the tension that the guards and tanks lining the Capitol's gates and fences have created.

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