Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. Someday soon I’ll document what a blur my April and May have been, as explanation if not excuse. Meanwhile, let me share my tiny contribution to the recent play The Peter Pan Project, conceived as a community-written work. The prompt was, “Describe the moment you grew up.” My response is below the fold.
But first, I have to say: I was not ready for the emotional punch of hearing someone else read my words to an audience. The staging was absolutely perfect (thanks, Aaron!) and the impact was overwhelming: A solitary actor, at the right edge of the stage, a forlorn spotlight piercing the otherwise pitch-dark room. And these words:
It’s curious. I couldn’t tell you the moment I grew up but I can name the exact moment my childhood ended. Normally we think of the two as adjacent instants in time but for me, they lie separated by a murky expanse of time like a dark and nameless sea. The moment I grew up is shrouded in fog — who knows? It might not even have come yet — but the end of my childhood is illuminated in a harsh actinic glare. The hands on the clock of my youth stopped at 3:47 on June 23, 1983 — the moment they told me my father lay dead at his own hands. I was twelve years old.
I went out of myself for a time. I know this because my body took a quantum leap from the kitchen doorway, where I’d been standing at the moment the news broke, to our beat-up living room couch, where I found myself sobbing. To this day, as far as I can tell, I never crossed the intervening space. In the exact same way, though I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time, I had somehow stepped over into adulthood from adolescence without crossing the intervening years. When in a short time I moved on to high school, I was immediately marked by teachers and counselors as mature for my age — even, they would say, overmature. Though I carried within me shards of curiously unfinished childhood growth, splinters over which the skin had grown, I approached life through a lens beyond my nominal years.