Thursday, September 11, 2014

Beaming Light



The two photos above are by my husband. In honor of his dad, he posted on IG in black and white only for a month. I found his images to be absolutely stunning. They seem particularly appropriate for this day.

I am finally starting to peel back the layers of the childhood of the person whose book I am ghostwriting. It took me several hours of interviews to get to the fact that he was bullied as a child, which he only happened to mention in passing. There is so much more but I have stop right there for the sake of everyone's privacy. My subject speaks in a fairly oblique way. He doesn't enjoy delving into anger or sorrow or emotional negativity and will start to get vague on the details. But it's the details I need to craft any kind of a story and so he is willing to be led there. He says that his mother will also be happy to talk to me. I know she'll have pieces of the puzzle he's not shared. I feel as if I am back in school, or maybe just on a crazy steep learning curve. But this person's fundamental kindness makes me want to do his story justice, so I press on.

My son has had friends staying here all week, two English boys who are camped out in my living room at this moment and will be with us until Saturday when they both fly back to London. My son goes to work every day and leaves them set up in front of the TV. One of them goes out to see his girlfriend but the other mostly stays home so a few times a day I leave my desk where I am trying valiantly to get the book going, and I wander into the living room and say, "Hungry yet?" He seldom is.

His name is Mikey and he's is a guitarist in a band back home, and I think Ms. Moon would be fond of him. He's skinny and tattooed, his blond hair in an outgrown mohawk and something about him makes me think of Keith Richards. I imagine he is much like the boys who became the Rolling Stones were before we ever knew their names. Almost incongruously, his face beams light; his eyes are generous and happy, his demeanor easy and open. He and I were here just the two of us for two days this week, as everyone else went out into the world to do whatever called them, and he sat and watched episode after episode of The Office as I wrote and did phone interviews at my desk. I thought he must be so bored, but when I asked him he said, "Oh no, I am blissfully happy to just sit here after the hectic summer I've had."

He worked as a unit director at camp this summer, and then traveled to Philly for a concert with my son and a whole big consort of camp people, then to New Orleans with a smaller group that was to have included my son, except he bowed out after his grandfather died and he realized that he'd be away in Antigua for a week and wouldn't be able to work enough hours to swing it. The summer long camp party is winding down this weekend with a final Friday night reunion that is the 21st birthday of one of my daughter's best camp friends. She may travel down from school to attend, except she'll sleep in her brother's room as her room is currently occupied and she's decided she'll get more enjoyment from kicking her brother out of his room than asking those boys to vacate hers.

In other news, the new rector of our church has been hired. Her activist and social justice roots run deep. She's and her partner, also a reverend, have been together for 27 years, and they have two sons, one of whom, it turns out, went to our daughter's progressive middle school. They're a multiracial family, and I think both women are going to be amazing for that little church. The new rector asked my husband how come I wasn't more involved. He told her I'd said I was too OCD for our chaotic heart-on-its-sleeve church and that I'd drive them crazy and they'd drive me crazy, and everyone laughed. Speaking of social activism, my daughter is utterly enjoying a class she is taking this semester called "Modeling Race and Gender" and she called me today to say, "Mom, I just want to thank you for sending me to such a progressive school and for letting me choose clothes out of the boy department at Old Navy and not pushing any gender norms on me." She called her dad later and told him the same thing.

She also told me about a rally for Ferguson that she attended yesterday; a housemate horror story involving a clogged toilet; and that she's off to try out for a step team on campus but was worried about making a fool of herself. "Everyone should feel free to make a fool of themselves on occasion," I suggested. And then I told her about auditioning for the choir I joined. "You had to sing by yourself in front of people?" she asked incredulously, because she has heard my singing voice. "Yes," I told her, "and I did it. And they didn't send me packing." "Well then I can certainly try out for step," she decided. Our whole conversation left me beaming light of my own.






10 comments:

  1. This made me smile. Your girl is growing into such a wonderful woman! She sounds like she's learning so much.

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    1. SJ, every year she unfolds a little more. It's lovely to watch. How are you?

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  2. Of course I would love that boy. Any face that beams light is a face I love. Which is probably why I love you and your family so much.
    Light, light, light.
    Love.
    Sigh. Goodness.

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    1. Ms Moon, he has a rocker heart. I think because he put me in the mind of the Stones as young men, I liked him even more, and that was because it made me fel somehow connected to you!

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  3. Ghostwriting a book! How cool! I'm sure it's a monumental task but you are such a skilled writer you will handle it with aplomb. It's great that you bonded so well with your visitor, but I have to wonder why he'd rather hang out and watch "The Office" than go see New York City. I'd be out and about every day if that were me. Or maybe he's been there many times before.

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    1. Steve, yeah, I thought the same thing but he's been to the city before and was also here for two weeks before they went to Philly and New Orleans, which was apparently a wild and crazy time, and now all his friends were all back at work and I suspect his funds were low. The city was also brutally humid and hot last week and we had AC. Plus I didn't bother him at all. I was mostly working. They did all go out in the evenings after my son came home from work.

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  4. I really love when you write these snippets of your life -- your conversation with your children, the humor shared. And the ghost writing sounds so intriguing! I have always wondering "how" it's done -- am curious how you remove your own voice and take on another. It might be sort of like acting, perhaps? Or even translating?

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    1. Elizabeth, you just tell their story I think. You channel it almost. The hard part is getting the whole story with enough detail and anecdote and emotion and character to sustain a whole book. But basically you're just trying to help them realize their intention for the book. It's still writing so once you know the story you're trying to tell it can be immensely satisfying. I'm not there yet. I'm still in the "holy shit, what did I get myself into" stage.

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  5. When we take risks and follow our dreams, we teach our children to do the same. Just like you are. It certainly sounds like your son and daughter are living their 20's well! And you have such a gift for seeing the beautiful things in the people around you.

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    1. Vesuvius, I'm learning more about taking risks. I think life is all about learning to function without fear. I have been so fearful in the past, about any and everything I could imagine. But you know how they say whatever you focus on, you draw to you? If so, better to focus on the good I want to draw to me and also to my kids. For someone made as I am, its a constant challenge! xo

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