I saw myself today

June 27, 2012 | Washington
I SAW MYSELF today, in the park near my office where I went to eat my humus/cucumber/tomato sandwich. More accurately, I saw myself a little more than six decades ago. I was with a group of about eight or nine nursery school children, accompanied by three adults. Some of the children, the older ones, were running around on the grass, chasing each other or chasing pigeons. The younger ones stayed close to their caretakers. Two of the girls busied themselves creating colored-chalk art on a sidewalk. And one little boy, of about 3 or 4 and Asian, stood apart from the rest, his hands inside the pockets of his sagging brown shorts. He had a look of satisfied aloneness on his face. There was no anger or pouting or resentment or envy on that face, just peace. And wonder. And contentment.
After a while, the little boy moved to an unoccupied bench, climbed onto it and lay, face down, peering through the slats at the grass beneath him. The two girls eventually grew tired of their art and ran off to join the other kids, who were now at the water fountain marveling at the sprouting jets of water. The boy, however, stayed behind (one of the adults was on a nearby bench) and after a while he moved to the sidewalk that been colored.
The girls had taken the chalk with them, so he had nothing to work with. Nothing, that is, except his hands. Slowly, he began to run his fingertips, then his palms, across the colors on the concrete and then rubbing them on his shirt and shorts in different patterns. Then he did the same on the bench, staring with a look of approval at what he had created. Eventually he decided he needed a new canvas. So he repeated the procedure, except that this time he pulled up his shirt and rubbed pastel colors on his tummy and chest. Then he did his legs.
When his guardians decided it was time to go, one of them called to him and he quickly moved toward her, reached for the finger that had been offered to him. Grasping it tightly, he walked away with the group, leaving me to ponder about how that was me, as a kid, then as a teen-ager and, finally, as an adult: always fascinated by the intricacy created by the leaves of grass, by the endlessness of the sky and the depth of colors on a canvas of brown skin – and feeling no great desire to abandon any of those things of beauty to be with other people.

About juanzqui7

Former Texas reporter, columnist and editorial writer.
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7 Responses to I saw myself today

  1. Mary Hale Etheredge says:


  2. Ann Chapman says:

    This is so wow. Really. I love it.

  3. Amanda says:

    If it is at all possible, I just fell in love with you even more. Breathtaking, mesmerizing, love the little you.

  4. nazie says:

    Where did my comment just go?! Why do my notes to you always seem to disappear into the ether?

  5. Was i there with you? I’m thinking that I know exactly what you looked all those years………. I shed many a tear then because I felt that I could not take care of you like I should have…….. and I am crying now.

  6. Isabelle says:

    C’est magnifique et tellement touchant. Je peux t’imaginer dans ce petit garçon, un peu solitaire et déjà créatif. Merci de ces belles images.

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