We are on our way home.
My phone beeps to reveal a text message from my father. I take a quick look around the first floor of my house to straighten some things up.We spent all of last week cleaning, so I looked at my reflection in the floor, flustered. I have to find something to do or I will be bombarded with annoying questions about what I spent the past two hours doing. As I walk up through one sparkling room after another, my anxiety begins to reach unhealthy levels. Meeting my parents’ absurd expectations became my only worry for the night. I sit down with a cup filled with popcorn, thinking of everything to avoid the hysterical rage of my parents.
God answers my prayers.
I look over to see my hero, a large black bag that sits directly in front of my trash can. My mind wanders through infinite times where my mother has yelled about bags sitting in front of my trash waiting to be taking out. My dash from my chair would have startled Usain Bolt. Almost salivating over my prize and the fleeting thought of screaming “my precious” zoom through my head as I grab the trash and run out of the door. I sprint out of the house and quickly throw the bag in a steel garbage can. I begin my victory lap to my kitchen sink. I try and twist the doorknob and continue my lap in Rio. The door doesn’t follow script and I run headfirst into it. Distraught and confused, staring at the door like an unsolved puzzle, twisting my head ever so slightly, I go for the door once again.
I sit down on the steps leading up to my walkway and watch the cars speed by. My hope resembles a sine graph, rising and falling as I wait for my family. I sit back and stare at the street-light-bleached sky with only a glitter or two of light defying the hierarchy. My imagination projects Van Gogh onto my city canvas. It seems contradictory that the light of the stars is drowned out by the lights sitting in front of my house. A light bulb smaller than my hand can beat out the light of fiery balls that have an average size of 1.4 million kilometers. If Van Gogh were to paint now, would the sky be pitch black? Would the street lights stand in the foreground like the forever-debated tree or mountain? The devices of the present alter the perceptions of the past. When I look up the sky, I no longer see what Van Gogh did. A thousand years ago, people saw their rich history on the starry canvas. Billions and billions of total years sprawled across trillions of miles. Now if I am lucky, I can see maybe a decade in false terrestrial bulbs. How can I understand what the past has left for us, when the filmy hands of invention left prints on the mirrors of creators like Van Gogh?
My starry gaze is interrupted by a Black Honda Odyssey’s headlights. My little brother Isaiah runs up to me. When we make eye contact, I am sure he sees the universe unfolding in my gaze. Relieved, excited, and enlightened, I walked in my house a different man.
-Taj Bland, The Haverford School, Class of 2018