Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Eras Will End

This past weekend, my father and I went on our very first (official) college road trip. We rolled past seemingly endless fields of wheat and windfarms, in our efforts to reach the very edge of what is defined as Washington territory, to inspect the separate universes of Central, WSU, Whitworth, Gonzaga, and Eastern. It wasn't that I had to pick one out just yet, my parents said, but that I had to start forming ideas about this upcoming ladder rung of life.

(As someone who has been longing for boarding school since the publication of the first Harry Potter novel, no less than vines covering worn stones and wrought iron, with new friends and hidden staircases left to be discovered inside its walls, will satiate my craving for a literary existence :) ).

While the prospects of a newly-formed, freely-lived second life away from my parents are exciting, and as the classic saying goes, every ending is also a beginning, what about the time BEFORE the ending? The train is heading full speed at an ice wall. The wall may yield to a brighter and warmer climate, but what about 100 yards back, when all you see is an end, and all you can do is brace yourself for the cold shock?

Childhood has always been, at least to me, one of the most easily misplaced luxuries. It sits on your bedside table through elementary, middle, and high school, but one morning, you wake up, and decide you want to take it with you, but it's gone. You wanted nothing more than to have nothing to do with it for the longest time, and then, when you want it the most, it has taught you all it can, and it has to leave. In a sort of Mary Poppins sort of way.

One of the only authors that I've encountered, who has been able to fully articulate my tight-chested feelings on the subject, was Annie Dillard.

"Must I then lose the world forever, that I had so loved? Was it all, the whole bright and various planet, where I had been so ardent about finding myself alive, only a passion peculiar to children, that I would outgrow even against my will?"
Her book, An American Childhood, is one of the most treasured in my collection. She is at the top of my list for Writers I Would Most Like to Talk To. However, the novel also gives me anxiety: I refuse to lend it or recommend it to anyone remotely close to me, because the feelings detailed inside are so real and so familiar, it would be the equivalent of tossing out my own journal to the wolves. It is a beautiful thing, to be able to retire the old, oft-spoken catchphrase of Teenage Rebellion, "No one understands me!", but a frightening one to consider that maybe, instead, the multitudes can. And even worse, do.

The fact that a second childhood is possible to experience, is enough of a reason to read this book. For all literary-minded, fire-hearted, suburban straightlaced and straightjacketed girls everywhere, Annie Dillard gets it. However, she has breached the ice wall. Pretty soon, I'll have to do it, too.

1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to many more trips. Remember, no matter how your life proceeds, one constant is that I will remain your father and you my daughter. A relationship that will see a change in its dynamic, but will always be the same at its root.