It had never happened before, but I guess it was inevitable. Two weeks ago (my most recent original posting), I racked my brain to find a topic, expressed it in my inimitable style, only to have the thesis statement of the topic appear to me after publication. I thought to let it pass, but the quote was too perfect, too descriptive of how I was feeling with my last post that I had to bring it to you.
As you no doubt have noticed, my enjoyment of Charles Dickens grows and grows with each page I read. I don’t want to sound repetitive (and in this case it is simply taking me weeks to plow through “David Copperfield”) but the coming of age story that permeates Dickens’ writings is so close to my heart as I watch society through the eyes of an adult, while trying to maintain enough innocence to watch through the eyes of my daughter.
In reading my previous posting after the fact, I noticed a strong cynicism in my writing, a bit of aggression towards a society that I perceived as having robbed me of my innocence. But we all go through that, right?
It reminded me of an instance of such total bliss and innocence that I wanted to share it with you.
In the eyes of a child, policemen and firemen are our heroes. We wave to them as they drive by, take field trips to the station houses, and play outside dreaming of ourselves as the men and women who protect us. I was driving last week and pulled up next to a police car. Did I wave to the officers inside? Did I thank them for their service? Of course not… I looked away and crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t find a reason to give me a ticket. There was a time, though…
When my brother and I were in elementary school, we used to walk home from school, do some homework, and play outside. Because we played outside every day at the same time, we saw the same cars drive down our street each day. And one particular car was a police car, driving towards the Devonshire station at the end of the block, taking the officers inside to end their shift for the day.
One day, neither mom or dad were home when we got back from school and this was unusual. Knowing that the police car would be driving by soon, we stood and waited for it, flagged it down, explained the situation, and hopped into the backseat of the car. The wonderful policeman and policewoman took us to the station, where we called our dad on his car phone and he came and picked us up. I wish I could remember dad’s reaction when we said we were at the police station.
Sometime between then and now, I feel that a distance has developed, separating us from those wonderful men and women who protect us. People asked me if there was a specific instance, some isolated and identifiable incident that tore the innocence from me and turned the quiet and close world of black and white Kansas into the colorful world of Oz, inhabited by witches and villains. I wish I could tell you. I could say it was the LA Riots, but I was already 16 by then… was it something earlier than that.
I don’t know, nor do I really care. It doesn’t even matter at this point what triggered it; all that matters is learning from it for the sake of being prepared for when it happens to my daughters. When the world will expand to a size which is unfathomable and erratic and, more importantly, unpredictable. It can feel like a ton of bricks…
To return to the basis for this post and why I chose to return to a previous topic. I have read a lot and have seen so many wonderful and literative sentences. But this was perhaps the most beautiful in terms of what it describes and how it describes it. It has resonated with me and will for many years to come… and it sums up everything I have been feeling these past few posts. Enjoy and be taken in by it. It truly is something special to absorb:
“It was as if the tranquil sanctuary of my boyhood had been sacked before my face, and its peace and honor given to the winds.”
The mastery of the English language is something that is special and so incredibly difficult. To craft a sentence like that is next to magical.
Have a great week.