Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11



I don’t know whether I was more surprised to learn that Cal’s school library is phasing out the Dewey decimal system, or to realize Abbott assumed I was coming in with him as I took him to the seventh grade dance tonight (parents weren’t, of course, invited, but it’s the first dance he’s attended and he didn’t know what to expect). He is lovely. I haven’t yet decided how I feel about what’s going on in the library.

The only grandfather I ever knew was born 99 years ago today on a farm his family homesteaded in Indian Territory; Oklahoma, by the time he was born. Alexi and I were supposed to go visit my grandparents the day after his birthday in 2001, the year the day became infamous, but no flights left Seattle the rest of that week. So instead, I spent the days walking, aimless mile after mile, disbelieving, grief-stricken, enraged. Day after day, my legs propelled me through my neighborhood and into the next one and the next, taking in the flags on porch after porch through my tear-blurred vision. I was a sister who was lucky not to have lost her sister in the World Trade Center. I was a beloved granddaughter who was missed; a bride who wanted to be visiting her grandparents with her new husband; a cancer survivor who approached life looking for hope and joy. I needed to keep hope alive in myself.

Abbott just finished reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian for his humanities class; I love that book for many, many reasons. (The audio version is also fantastic.) I thought about it a lot today. A few favorite excerpts:

“I had to add my hope to somebody else’s hope. I had to multiply hope by hope.”

“Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.”

“I realized that I might be a lonely Indian boy, but I was not alone in my loneliness. There were millions of other Americans who had left their birthplaces in search of a dream. I realized that, sure, I was a Spokane Indian – that I belonged to that tribe – but I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants, and to the tribe of basketball players and to the tribe of bookworms, and the tribe of cartoonists….and the tribe of teenaged boys, and the tribe of small town kids, and the tribe of Pacific Northwesterners, and the tribe of tortilla chip and salsa lovers, and the tribe of poverty, and the tribe of funeral-goers, and the tribe of beloved sons…”

Best wishes for all of us this September night.

7 comments:

Jennifer said...

Another lovely post, thank you.

Lecia Phinney said...

Thanks so much, Jennifer. xo

Eve said...

I love how you express things, in a simple and authentic way.
Thank you.

Brenda said...

I second what Jennifer and Eve said.

(From a member of the tribe of we who still weep when we remember 9/11/2001.)

Lecia Phinney said...

Eve: thank you for saying so.

Brenda: xx

Anonymous said...

I found your site this summer via Orangette and am so grateful.
I just listened to the Sherman Alexie narrated audio version of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian based on your recommendation. Outstanding. Now I'll read the bound version as well.
Any chance you'd be willing to do a post on other reading recommendations?
Stephanie

Lecia Phinney said...

Hi, Stephanie -

Thank you so much for saying so! I was so affected by that story; it's an honor to share it with you, and anyone who will take me up on the recommendation. I'll try to make sure I'm mentioning books I appreciate as I read them. Maybe a future post about favorite books - yes - but I worry I'd make regrettable omissions - my memory is terrible.

Best wishes,
Lecia