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My earliest memory stems from preschool, a teacher, whose face I don’t even remember, using a safety pin to attach a folded piece of paper to the back of my shirt before placing me on a school bus to go home. Being the skinny kid I was, the message intended for my mother was like a billboard covering half my torso. I don’t know how they do it nowadays, probably via text message, but this was how they used to get information to the parents of the little ones.
Out of all my memories, why was this one imprinted the deepest? Some people believe life is about coming full circle.
I’ve spent the past few days preparing for the next chapter in my life. Actually, it’s been years in the making when I really think about it. Maybe as far back as that first memory. Part of being a child is being exposed to a great deal of storytelling, for such a tool has proven to work well with the learning process. For most kids it ends up being a building block, to serve alongside other fundamentals of development. But for some, like myself, a special kinship is formed, with story becoming the most important part of one’s foundation. For these few, paperbacks take precedence over toys, hardbacks being the evening entertainment while parents and siblings watch television in the background.
As you can imagine, book reports were my sheer joy, my recess, my show-and-tell. In middle school, targets were set on getting published in the school paper, and by high school my focus was on more widely circulated publications, like magazines and such.
With cap and gown came the decision to go out and earn a degree in Life, concluding that more academic education could be acquired at any time. And so I experienced, lived, wrote.
The one thing they don’t teach you in secondary school and below is what I like to call The Finite Window of Youth. When someone sees a little kid working a lemonade stand, they don’t see it through cynical eyes, as someone just trying to get money out of them. No, it’s looked upon as something to encourage, to support. This societal view of respecting a young person’s ambition continues on through the tween and adolescent years, everyday people having no problem subscribing to a newspaper or buying a chocolate bar.
But then something odd happens. That once grand window of youth, of opportunity, begins to fog up while at the same time falling back, the older one gets, the more unclear and out of reach it becomes, and before you know it, it’s nothing but a faded memory. Add a whole generation to the equation, minus a privileged few but multiplied by new waves of youth and that window is no more than a tiny speck, more distant than a far-off star in a universe that once held boundless potential.
Meanwhile, life continues to happen all around you, and with the sight of a plus sign on a pregnancy stick things are positively about to change whether you’re ready for them or not.
Having tried every trick in the book, (and yes dammit, the pun is intended, for sometimes a sense a humor can mean the difference between keeping one’s sanity and losing it) a storyteller like myself, after facing the extreme saturation of cyberspace black holes and clueless literary insiders, realizes that something drastic needs to come about if the passionate heart is to keep beating, while at the same time taking hold, with cradling hands, this new responsibility.
The novella: long enough to leave quite the impression if written well, short enough to keep costs low enough to turn a profit. And so I print out three of my masterpieces, double-sided, so that when assembled, they’re like little homemade paperbacks. Crude? To the close-minded, yes, but for those who have a taste for fleshly-squeezed lemonade, I just might have a chance.
And so with my ten dollar knockoff Samsonite bag I wheel my future, our future, to a popular freeway on-ramp as the sun begins to rise, my only possible competition being a fellow peddler, this one selling bags of oranges.
The paper safety-pinned to my front, as well as the one to my back, both reading
occasionally rustles with my movement or a gentle breeze.
Indeed I have come full circle, and can only hope the circumference of my baby’s sphere of life will turn out so much wider.
For the audio version…