I got up early to drive Aubrey to school. Already the temperatures outside are sliding past the ‘normal’ temp for this time of year, which is 97 degrees F. Last night she and Orion and I were in the pool at ten. (Pete has been away all week, doing all those things nobody thinks about that make TV shows look the way they do.) Orion insisted on bringing one of his plastic swords. He stood on the little peninsula over the water with it raised to the sky, his little frame stretched to its fullest height, his hair silver under the full moon. He looked like a little warrior god. It was an arresting image, making me wish I were a better painter, making me feel like an ungrateful, undeserving human being for ever feeling sad.
I got a letter from George, who is the uncle of a little boy I sponsor through Christian Children’s Fund. I don’t support Christianity. I don’t see any conflict with supporting this group. Benard is just turning seven this year and still can’t write much, but he draws pictures. I send him books and stickers . Because of customs restrictions, I’m only allowed to send flat things that will fit in a big envelope. I choose the books and gifts carefully, knowing that Benard isn’t exposed to any pop culture. This week I sent a copy of “The Snowman” , some animal and alphabet stickers and some of those tiny sponge animals you put in water that grow into slightly larger sponge animals.
Benard’s parents died of AIDS. I haven’t asked yet, but I’m thinking from the letters that his uncle is probably pretty young. It’s likely, as the mean age in Kenya is eighteen.
The letters are interesting. I’m learning things about life in Kenya that aren’t in most books. It’s interesting too, to correspond with someone who has had so little exposure to Western culture. For instance, in response to George’s heartfelt thanks at the end of each letter, I have no way of explaining to him that my sponsorship is less than what I pay for cable.
I’m ashamed to be an American.
I’m making another toy, and mailing out rats and things I owe people. Toys can be silly, but working is not. For me, working is often the answer to whatever is wrong.
I’ve added Bill Maher’s book, “If You Ride Alone, You Ride with Ben Laden” to Aubrey’s required reading list for this summer.
As always, I appreciate your comments and invite you to say what’s on your mind.