Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

camera blackDear Lyla,
I must confess, school was difficult for me when I was young. The subjects I studied did not cause distress, rather the feeling that I never quite fit in was the cause of much anxiety. Often I felt like an observer, instead of an active participant in my life. High school was particularly brutal for me socially and emotionally; though perhaps those around me never would have guessed that was the case. We did not have social media back then, and for that I am somewhat grateful. Back then my world was very small, I had no idea how varied the human experience truly is. All I knew is that when it was time to leave high school I would never look back. For the most part, that is still true. I do not lament missing high school reunions nor do I feel a pull northward when homecoming season is in full bloom. However, with the advent of social media, I have been curious as to what happened to those who walked the halls of adolescence with me all those years ago. As you know, storytelling runs through my veins and my curiosity for new methods of communicating the narrative is endless. Although the written word and still photography are like old friends, film’s siren song is calling and I must answer. While you will always be my muse, ghosts from the past have been whispering. Social media has given me a glimpse into how the lives of old school mates might have taken shape, but online repositories are charlatans and convey only what we want others to see. Viewing sanitized profiles creates a haze and numbness around memories of teen angst and bruised feelings. In some measure it has been soothing to reconnect to those I left over 20 years ago. I admit to feeling surprised at some of the paths that my peers have taken, where they ended up and with whom. One journey that holds particular interest belongs to a man named Chris, he goes by the name “King” now and lives in San Francisco. I have been most intrigued by his story. How does a young man from a town of less than 200 from northern Minnesota end up becoming a cultural fixture in the Castro district? What is his story? How has he shaped and been shaped by others? Does he feel the pull of the past or does he live contentedly in the present? What will the story I tell about him reveal about me? These are questions that will soon be explored Little One. In less than two weeks I am going to see the King and listen to his tale. I am not sure what will happen when our narratives collide in the filmmaking process. What I do know is, when the time is right, each of us will have a story to share.

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lyla smile bwDear Lyla,

When you are young it seems like the adults in your life think they know what is best for you; and often that is true. With age comes experience, with experience comes wisdom and with wisdom comes the ability to predict outcomes based on observed variables and past outcomes. I know that it can seem horribly cruel and unfair sometimes when adults dismiss the intuition of a child; nevertheless it is done out of love and no parent survives child rearing without making an error or two. I am positive that on more than one occasion as a young child I stomped my feet, stuck out my lower lip and declared that my parents hated me, were unfair  and I might as well pack a bag and move out. For the life of me I cannot recall with any certainty more than one or two instances where I had felt truly wronged and misunderstood by my parents. However, one such breach of trust in my gut instincts by my parents is forever burned in my memory and it is the first recollection I have that my parents were not immune to making mistakes themselves. I was nine years old and it was summertime on Ottertail Lake. I had become enamored with nature’s creatures and my mother had become quite accustomed to the strays I would bring home (dogs, ducks and chipmunks just to name a few). Up until the sunny day on which this particular tale plays out, I never received a great deal of resistance from my parents when I brought injured wild animals home to nurse. I was particularly delighted to see that a turtle had dug a nest to lay her eggs in the ditch next to the county road in our back yard. Mama turtle had been out and about for a couple of weeks and had always confined her travels to the patch of prairie grass between the ditch and the lake; she steered clear of the road which was busy with tourists during the summer months. One afternoon I went out to check on her and to my horror she was in the middle of the road. I sprinted back to the house and breathlessly begged my mom and dad to help me get her back to the ditch. You see she was a very large turtle, a snapping turtle, and I knew it was dangerous for me to approach her. I also understood that she could be run over, or worse, caught and turned into turtle soup! To their credit my parents came outside to see how dire the situation truly was. Mama turtle was almost to the other side of the road and my parents felt that since she only had a few feet left to go that it would be in her best interest not to disturb her journey. In my heart I knew they were wrong. I felt my chest tighten and my respirations rapidly increase as I begged them to do something. I told them I had a gut feeling that something would go wrong; that she wouldn’t make it back to the safety of the tall grasses of the ditch. A few moments later a truck came speeding down the road and I was terrified that the truck would hit her; Grandma said not to worry that the truck would see her and slow down.  Grandma was right, the truck slowed down to avoid hitting her. Not only did the truck slow down, it came to a complete stop; at which time a man got out of the truck picked up the mammoth turtle and put it in the back of his truck. I knew that this man did not intend to release her into a more appropriate habitat; I understood that turtle meat from a female this size could feed a family for a few days. While I was no stranger to the realities of country living and livestock, I could not bring myself to accept her fate as being a part of the natural order of things; and I could not help but blame my parents in being complicit in her demise. It is a rite of passage Little One, the moment where the veil has been lifted and you no longer see your parents as infallible and omniscient; and it is rite we must all partake of.  On that day I felt my own mortality, not because the turtle met an untimely fate, because I understood that my parents were human and not beyond the reach of the cruel realities of the world we live in. In that moment I was filled with fear, uncertainty and sadness because somehow, at the tender age of nine, I realized that this day marked the beginning of the end of my childhood. Little One someday the age of innocence will end for you; I don’t know when and I don’t know how. I do know that it can be scary and a bit overwhelming. I want to share with you something that I wish I knew then; to understand the fallibility of human nature, and to accept it, is essential in creating a caring and compassionate human being. Thankfully, you are much wiser and more intuitive now than when I was your age. While I already mourn the day you will meet the sunset of your tender years; I am quite certain that when your time comes you will deal with the revelations gracefully, compassionately and wisely.

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