The little boy became a bigger boy, but not so big as kids his age, and those kids knew he was different from them. The little boy didn't like their games, or their mean little eyes, or the stuff they talked about. He liked art. He liked magic. He liked pretty things. He liked books and ideas. His grades were very good and came so easily to him that he barely noticed it was easy at all. He liked the attention this earned him. But these were not things for boys, said the other boys. He liked the stars, and dreaming of being far away. He liked vampires and imagined he was like them, powerful and remote and lonely. The kids at school called him names, or ignored him. The little boy watched them from across the playground and dreamed of being far away.
Sometime later, the little boy became a big boy. He had ideas and wrote things. He went to school for writing, and got his heart broken, and stopped writing. His body wasn't that of a little boy anymore, but he wouldn't know that until many years after it happened, so focused was he on his books and his life and his fantasies. It would come as a shock, much later, when the man he had become realized that the little boy was still there--had been there all along--inside.
The little boy started a blog. It lasted for a couple years. It was fun, then it wasn't. That was like so many things in the life of the little boy, now pretending to be a man. One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more. He abandoned the blog, and forgot about it. He was a man now, beyond the years of boys or of boys who look like men. He was even beyond the years of men who act like boys. He bought a house. He tore the house apart, dig a deep hole in the yard, and filled it with other boys who were not like the boys in the playground.
He also tore apart himself. He dug inside. He rummaged through old ideas and tossed many of them aside, looking for what was behind them, or underneath them. He started asking other questions than how much, or what. Questions like why, and how.
He fell in love again, with the same boy who had broken his heart those years before. All those many years. In the intervening time, he'd built himself into a scarecrow version of a man. Nice suits. A fancy car. A house of his own. Board seats on important non-profits. All the things a real man would have. He was a boy covered in names that are not his own, talking about adult things with adults. Inside, the little boy still watched from across the playground and dreamed of being far away.
All the while, deeper and deeper the digging went, until the man found that playground inside, and that little boy watching and dreaming.
And that's where I've been, Dear Reader. And that's why I'm writing this now, because I feel stuck and afraid and alone, which is maybe the zeitgeist of our time. The world in the five years since I've written has gotten so much scarier. The planet careens viciously toward a man-made holocaust of unthinkable proportions. An angry, yelling man holds sway over us all, just as an angry, yelling man held sway over the little boy's house--and the little boy's heart--all those years ago. A decade has passed since I started this blog, and a half-decade since I've written in it. In that much more time, our planetary fate will be sealed. What will we do? What will I do? What SHOULD I do? What is my responsibility? Speaking of responsibility, I don't think I could stand much of what I've written just a scroll below these words. I'm afraid to look at it, like some people are embarrassed by an old yearbook photo. I beg your forgiveness, Dear Reader, for acting the role of an adult.
I really don't know what to say now, except to say ANYTHING. Being vulnerable is the new radical, in a world of angry defiance and hostile self-justification and violent oppression. So for just a few minutes now, I take that boy by the hand, and I ask him gently: may I tell you a story of a little boy?