dennissweeney

Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

Day 363 (The Uselessness of a Suit of Armor)

In Taipei on August 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Goodbyes are never representative of what you are saying goodbye to. They are never fitting. They are always trolling through a military paraphernalia shop eying the camouflage clothes and ninja swords while whoever you are saying goodbye to tries to find pepper spray for her mom so she can repel unwanted visitors while her daughter is away. Or suggesting that her mom could sleep in the suit of armor the shop has for sale and then she wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. Or poring over Craig’s List in order to confirm that she is using it correctly despite the inattention landlords have paid to her emails so far. Or walking down the street casually, anticipating your own rest after a long day of work.

In other words, goodbyes are tests of what came before. You can’t concentrate all the good intentions you had into the final few moments. Goodbyes are grasping this and looking back and seeing if you contributed what you meant to contribute. They are judging if you created the relational piece of art you would have liked to created. They are understanding that there is no such thing as a representative moment because the representative moment would have to encompass all the moments you had with a person and thereby looking back and judging for yourself, each of you, whether those moments were sufficient on their own.

So were they? Huh? Were they?

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Day 228 (Blood and Water)

In Taipei on April 11, 2011 at 9:15 am

I think it is this precise moment that this white, Chinese-looking pavilion that outcrops over the lake was built for: soft sun, breeze, a fading day, parents that have flown from all the way the other side of the world, catching up on things that you haven’t caught up on in eight months, like even existing in the same place and time, being across from one another, and pointing out sights that your vision adheres to, things this time that none of you have ever seen before, a questionable staircase up that mountain, an off-limits bridge bathed in scaffolding, an excavator dredging soil at the edge of the lake, two youths noodling on the bench by the banister, Mom dropping her water bottle three stories down to the mud by the geese, little kids, adults, still-dwindling sunlight, much like things you have seen before but not them, a new space and time to live in together, narrower, maybe, than what as been there in the past, briefer, but richer, too, more keenly felt, it’s not high-school anymore, when you grow up you realize, etc., etc.

Day 94 (The Town Criers)

In Taipei on November 20, 2010 at 7:12 pm

It’s that sort of day, when a kid stops in his tracks and bursts into tears when you sternly reprimand him for waiting until after the break to use the restroom. Jesus, you think, you meant to cause remorse but not this kind of havoc. These are the first tears you’ve seen teaching, a fact that shocks you.

It’s that sort of day, when a kid in your new class puts his head in the crook of his arms, his eyes red, his cheeks wet, for no perceptible reason. He won’t respond to your questioning or that of your co-teacher. He’s distraught. He’s a mess. Ten minutes later he is cheerily telling you whether he can dance, a goofy smile on his fickle little face.

It’s that sort of day, when your pleasure at the Pavlovian conditioning of these kids to howl at their classmates when the forbidden Chinese language is spoken turns to distress as the new kid, young and big-headed, puts his hands over his eyes and refuses to move them. He’s been hollered at too much, you grasp, so you chide the others, undoing the irreplaceable work of their past teacher.

Welcome to it all, little men.