Growing Up

 

Shadows of purple periodically interrupted by flashes of fluorescent yellow

Innards warmed like melted caramel

Riding in a car, late at night, I felt safe.

 

I felt like I could conquer the world.

I saw monkeys and bandits swinging swiftly side by side

in the trees outside my window, bound by neither human law nor gravity.

I watched not cars filled with their people, but people inside their cars

Swim by in this ephemeral world of speed, where we were counterparts of light,

Where we were a people of motion.

We were in another place, one apart from the neighborhoods and crosswalks,

Apart from the city halls and the ringing church bells;

We were rushing through the veins, still a part of the vast body of America,

but here only to fly by.

 

What if we were only meant to fly by?

What if staying too long causes only trouble?

The heated black leather of my seat was shiny and wrinkled.  I pressed my flushed hands against the cool window to get a feel of the world outside our vessel. I gazed longingly at the stars.

 

The moon winked down at me.

 

My mother chattered about life when she was a girl and reminded me that things were different back then and will be different in time to come.

We are a people of motion.

 

But can we really know anything for sure?

Maybe the maps are all parchment of lies, and India is only 4 hours down the coast;

Maybe starving children are not only across the sea, but right across the street;

Maybe I wanted to stop riding shotgun, and start taking the wheel.

 

The radio purred bubbly rhythms and beats,

hiccupping pops and bellowing basses.

Sometimes, my mother lets me join in with the noise when we’re cruising along.

Crazy, I know, as small as a car is, but she lets me howl to my heart’s content.

I didn’t that night though.

That moment wasn’t the kind of space meant to be filled with me;

it was a space, a quiet one, made for both of us.

I suppose living with a single parent really teaches you how to compromise space, how to really coexist with another person.

It teaches you that even if the lack of voices echoing in the empty rooms can be painful sometimes, filling the void with bickering is much worse.

 

I thought I knew what all highways looked like, because asphalt is just asphalt, right?

Because all exit signs are just exit signs, right?

But the road ahead always surprised me.

Since when did I start having a lack of imagination?

 

Regrettably, an aching back and sore neck brought a numbing to the wanderlust, and I no longer saw monkeys and bandits in the trees.

Instead, I saw familiar sights approaching:

Our neighborhood, our trees, our schools, our temples.

And I pretended that I was a brave war hero arriving back home at last;

And I pretended that I was ten years older;

And I pretended that I was ten feet taller;

And I pretended that my life had begun.

 

I really wished we hadn’t arrived home so soon.

 

Until then, Moon.

This poem is about: 
Me
My community

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