Not much of a story is it? I haven’t even been born yet. Truth be told its the first time I’ve told it this way, even to myself. So Pascal comes – – pre-named and prayed for with bright red hair. The story I remember first was being wanted, and second being spiritually delivered from collick. Love Letter – – part 3 from the beginning
Sister was P3’s age (11 1/2) and Brother 15 when I came. That age gap insulated me tremendously from sibling rivalry – – at least the type that a boy would recognize. I was talked to, prayed for, rocked, sung to and from the beginning told I was special. After two transfers for my Dad I’ve been in Texas public schools since the second half of kindergarten in Magnolia, Texas. They moved again to Cypress, a Northwest suburb of Houston with a GT program and the highest rated school district. Mom and Dad often followed that pattern – – we lived in the smallest house of the best school district. So many things they did right – – so many things to be thankful for. The 1980’s saw gifted and talented programs proliferate and compete for the best students or perhaps parents who could most contribute to the tax base. I was a happy and talkative child. I’m still happy. I’m still loquacious. I arrived there in second grade and even at that level the difference between tiny Magnolia and one of suburban Houston’s best schools was immediately apparent.
I took all classes from 2nd-5th grade in the GT track with very bright and very driven kids. At least driven by proxy. Many of the kids were being pushed hard by successful parents – – one generation ahead of us in progress to the American dream – – affluent and white. But I also met our real competition – – children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. These were the kids who lived in apartments – – whose parents swept floors or did whatever it took to survive. And these kids did their homework and did it well. I realized even then that Texas’ largest city is a very small place. If I wanted to succeed like my father did, then I had to succeed in context beyond a large city in a large state in a wealthy nation. How much of that did I understand then? More than I realized.
Did my parents drive me? Another thing they did right. The honest answer is no – – they really didn’t. I remember them comforting me if the grade wasn’t high enough. There is a danger to exceptionalism, always being told that you are special and that you will do great things. The first danger is better understood now. Yes, everyone has unique giftings and is special – – that is the essence of calling. But, no – – not everyone will be at the top of the class. In fact, no one will but one. And that was my goal, from very early on – – be the best. I wasn’t athletic, although I was active and loved to play, I didn’t have Boy Scouts although my Dad was an Eagle and I thought it was so cool. I had school. What was my biggest gift of all? I loved every minute of being there. I had a few good friends – – a few is all I’ll ever have – – and I was liked, even with the thick glasses that started in third grade. But what did I like most about school? The work.
[insert travelogue] – – okay – – I’ve cleared customs and re-checked my baggage for Penang, MY. We have friends there who have lived there for years. They feel a calling to live amongst Muslim people. Why is Indonesia Muslim? One reason is Krakatoa. Christians were selfish and late. Muslims early and generous. John is a photographer by advocation, and in my opinion – – profession. He represents the best type of amateur – – one who loves. The photo in my office of devout Muslims in prayer – – his work. I expect to drink Scotch (that may not be allowed) smoke a pipe (or that) and talk for hours (jet lag has its benefits). A gustatory diversion as well – – I must really be off my meds – – I am eating nearly my favorite food – – sushi – – on an island (so I assume the fish were recently alive) in Asia! So. Very. Cool. Me in an airport (a spectacular airport – – Changi (Chang-ghee)), eating sushi, writing my sister – – alone and not lonely at all. [end travelogue and food channel] – – re-read to regain continuity . . .
-to be continued-
Photo credit: Handwritten letter by Descarte: by PHGCOM [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons