She told him to stand by a desk and smile. He complied and she took his picture. It was the first picture of him in Canada. He was twelve years old, shy, unsure, and timid. He would remain so for many many years, and in some way he would never change.
He came from Poland. His family was running away from a totalitarian state which imprisoned his father. His father would never stop saying and doing what needed to be said and done, he had done that all his life, and so it was best to leave than too face what would inevitably come next. And his parents were surprised. The little boy was excited to leave. All his classmates were excited that he had a chance to go to Canada. They lived in such poverty that they would look at brochures and toy catalogs from department stores like it was porn. An unbelievable, unattainable, and impossible beautiful reality, wrapped up in a dirty dream.
He stood and smile for her and remained shy, unsure and timid for a long, long time after. Some would say that he will remain like this until the end of time, but now he has a companion. There is a man, in his middle forties that cares deeply for this little boy. He understands this boy. He loves this boy. Embraces this boy, because he was this boy.
There was something likeable and beautiful about that awkwardness. There was something moving about all the alcoholism he witnessed, the violence he witnessed, the poverty he experienced, and the quiet room he created so that he could be safe from it all. He lived in that little room and dreamed.
He couldn’t speak english but wrote stories and poems in his native tongue. He had a creative itch, and itch that never went away, except that he learned to belong, and in belonging he forgot and rejected who he was and what he wanted.
But today he has a companion. Today, the old man pushes and writes for him. He strives to create a life, so that the little boy no longer has to be alone. It’s not easy. Much has changed and there are new things to confuse and occupy his time, but regardless, the hold man writes.
There is something about that twelve year old boy. There is something about him, and there is something here about you.
There is a little boy or a little girl hidden deep inside of you, and she needs an old woman to take her by the hand as well. The future needs to connect with the past and become reunited with time. It’s important. It’s important to remember. It’s important to care and it’s important to show that little girl, that someone is listening and that someone won’t forget.
We have to find our second innocence. We need to return to a childhood we didn’t know we were living. A wonderful time and a most terrible time. We are stronger now. We know more now. We have money and resources. We have experience and wisdom. We should not let that go to waste.
Talk to that little girl. Find out who she was and what she wanted. Don’t let her sit alone, like that little boy who is so happy to no longer be alone.