Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back to a Shadow (a Sunday sort of post)

I was walking home late tonight...well, today now, from working at Susie's. A stop at El Batey to say hello to a few friends and then onward. A stop at Happy Landing. It was quiet and only a few were there. A ride was offered but it would have meant hurrying someone's beer and I had only one mission; get home. Plus, the walk, after a high night of gogogogo lets me wind down, ready to move into the almost ready to sleep zone.

As I walked I kept noticing my shadow. It grew with the street lights and faded...but there would be a double image of shadow, one stretched out along the street, blurried, and one sharp from the light above me. For some reason, the shadow of my younger days came to mind, nights I'd walk home from the beach or a friend's house...and those shadows were talking loud.

Oh, my shadow now is bigger than my young girl self. My hair was longer and crazier curly. I'm not very tall and I'd watch my shadow make me giant. That was still the same. And the salt from the sea was still in the air and safety wasn't even a blip in my brain. So I let my shadow talk to me in silence and it made me grin. A lot.

I still live where I can walk home late. Driggers, the cop on patrol of my youth, isn't patroling here on Culebra. He doesn't stop and say, "You should be home now, what would your Dad say? Get in the car." And then he'd drop me (and sometimes a couple of friends) off a block from our homes, where we would sneak in a bedroom window, or in my case, walk through the front door, sand on my feet, the television making the zzzhhhhh noise of nothing playing...or maybe the Star Spangled Banner would be on, signing off for the night.

And my father would be sleeping on the couch, a book resting on his chest. Falling asleep after watching Johnny Carson. I learned to never turn off the television, its soft white noise his rest zone that, turning to silence, would wake him up as if I'd run in screaming. We'd not done anything bad, just playing on the beach, watching turtles or surfing in the moonlight...and laughing at our shadows on the not so long walk home.

I tried to take a photograph of my shadow tonight, but shadows are elusive, as we all know. My young girl shadow was only apparent to myself. How does an almost 56 year old woman see her 14 year old self in shadows? Take a walk some might find out.

One of my favorite poems, of many, by Robert Lewis Stevenson, in the wonder full book A Child's Garden of Verses.

illustration by Jessie Wilcox Smith

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Maybe that's why I am an early morning person!

Have a shadow Sunday. Do something silent.


  1. Oh God what a flashback. As a kid, I owned a Child's Garden of Verses, and the memory had been crowded into that back closet of treasures. The poem, I know, was one of my favorites, because reading it brought that nostalgic rush that sometimes blesses a day-almost like Deju Vu but less vague and much sweeter. Thank you!

  2. Glad you felt it too, you are most welcome.

  3. Whoa! What Anonymous said for me too! I had forgotten all about that poem, but it too was one of my favorites as a kid. I could recite it from memory (back then, not now).

  4. Debbie, Anonymous is Angie (friends with Grady and Walt). Debbie, meet Angie, Angie, meet Debbie. There. Passing shadows!

  5. MJ - I think I just figured out how to make make comments under a name less sinister sounding than "Anonymous". Maji's the spiritual name I was given by the guru.

    Pleased to meet 'ya Debbie.


  6. I like it better than Anonymous as well. Glad you figured out the maze of tech!

  7. That was great writing!

  8. Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. I'd forgotten all about this post; fun to be reminded.