curved like a worm, straight as an arrow.
A line is a jump rope, black ants in a row,
a tug-of-war game and a violin bow,
a tall pole for fishing, a leash and a trail,
a kite string, a shoelace, a whisker, a tail.
from: When a Line Bends . . . A Shape Begins
by Rhonda Gowler Greene
Illustrated by James Kaczman
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997
I had boundaries when I was a child. My children had boundaries, too. I’m sure my grandchildren know just how far from home or how far down the driveway or how far ahead is far enough. Past that point, someone will call them back, a parent or grandparent no doubt.
All the kids on my street played together when we were growing up. Lots of times, the central point was my backyard, but I was allowed to go to my friends’ houses, too. I was allowed to ride my bike to the pool. I think we had a six-block limit on Halloween.
The point of those boundary lines was to make sure my parents knew where we were. We could stray, but not too far. We could explore as long as someone knew where to find us. My brother had very generous boundaries. He rode miles and miles from home with a friend or two exploring our city parks. This was suburban Cleveland in a time before cell-phones. My parents trusted him (and the rest of the world). He had a time limit, though. And as far as I can remember, he always met it.
I can describe my childhood personality in one word, shy. I wasn’t fearful or timid, really. I just liked to feel secure in my surroundings. I liked to know where I was going and who I was with.
Once, I did get lost. Mom and I were shopping for school clothes, one of my least favorite chores. I did not like anything Mom picked out. The clothes I liked never fit as well as they did in my mind’s eye. So there we were, looking at skirts and blouses in the size, even as a young child, I hated to admit was the one that fit. I didn’t like any of the choices, so I wandered. Of course the racks were over my head. I could not see out and my mom could not see me.
When I realized I was lost, I panicked. I did not cry and I did not holler for my mom. I sat down in the middle of an aisle in despair, and wondered how I would take care of myself. I was so sure I’d be lost forever. I don’t know why I had that thought, but I know I did.
Looking back, it doesn’t make any sense. My mom loved me. On some level I knew we would be reunited, and we were. But right then, in that store full of strange people and ugly clothes, nothing made sense. My fears were unfounded.
But what if they weren’t? What if I found myself alone, in a strange place full of strange people wearing ugly clothes? Speaking a strange language? Asking strange questions that I didn’t understand?
Last week, I called my senators and representatives. I left a message with one and spoke to office staff of the two others. My daughter advised calling them again and again and again. Until this problem is solved.
Here are the links, so you can make a difference, too. https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
It is easy. And important, I think. Maybe, if we make enough noise, someone will hear.
—stay curious (and connected)!
I'm really enjoying The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It is a fictionalized biography of Sarah Grimke who was an abolitionist and an advocate for women's rights in the early 1800s. The book's greatest strength is characterization.