Monday, November 29, 2010

A Subtle Connection - Emily and Her Brother

The connection between Emily and her brother is subtle. The childhood enjoyed by Aaron is very different from Emily’s childhood. Emily looks up to her big brother, but they spend little time together. Aaron is a mystery to Emily, nor does she question the ease in which he is allowed to move about the house. Where Emily tiptoes, Aaron runs. Where Emily whispers, Aaron shouts. There is no competition between them, no vying for their parent’s attention. It belongs to Aaron. Emily accepts their opposite roles, because that is all she knows. Still, there is a subtle connection which Emily feels but does not fully understand. In this scene from Pages in the Wind, Emily is afraid and confused while attending a funeral that she is ill-prepared for:

They were guided to seats that lined the ugly room with the sad music. Emily sat down where she was told, wrapped in confusion and feeling as if she were in a dream. Aaron was looking downward as if he could push the scene away by not looking up. Emily searched her brother, her parents, and the people standing in the room, trying to understand what was happening. She wanted to run but the man was still standing in her way, his face was so blank that she was not even sure that he was a real person.

Emily sat in her chair with her face straight ahead waiting for some understanding of her surroundings and why she was there. Her brother continued to look at the floor to avoid the scene in front of him. Emily watched him stare at the floor, and wondered if he understood what was happening. He tilted his head and looked at Emily. His eyes were filled with tears, which surprised her as she had never seen Aaron cry. He continued to look at her, with no attempt to wipe away the tears. Emily watched him and in his tearful stare she sensed that he was trying to tell her something. She continued to read his tearful eyes, until she understood what his eyes were saying. Emily gently nodded her head, and stopped trying to make sense of the scene. Aaron dropped his head again, choosing to stare at the floor and erase the scene. Emily dropped her head also, and for a time they sat in silence sharing a secret that helped Emily to withstand the tragedy that she knew was in front of her.

Although Aaron and Emily do not share the same childhood, the connection is apparent. This connection may be more significant for Aaron, who is kept from his sister by the privileges given to him by his father. Aaron observes the violence that Emily experiences. He is a passive witness to her pain, as he is endowed with privilege and presented with a life free of pain. How will this affect him? Will this affect how he sees the world?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Loss of Emily's Grandma - A Critical Abyss

In Pages in the Wind, as young Emily prepares to leave for New York City, her grandma, the most important person in her life, is left behind. The loss of her grandma shatters Emily, because she made Emily feel safe and loved. More significant, when she was with her grandma, she felt normal and did not feel the omnipresent sting of criticism and ridicule. During the last ride to grandma’s house, she feels lost and in her creative mind tries to find an escape that will help her to cope with the reality of her young life.

The ride to grandma’s house was miserable. Her father smoked cigars and coupled with the car air conditioner, the air was stale and the stench and smoke made her eyes water and burn. She tried to roll down the window but her father shouted to roll it up. She sat in silence wondering why she was in the car, and feeling like she wanted to be someone else. She closed her eyes and imagined herself to be a young girl that lived with a bachelor uncle in a beautiful home. Her name was Anna. Anna’s uncle doted on her, took her on long walks in the sunshine, and at the end of the day, read her bedtime stories. She finally fell asleep, lost in the fantasy of being Anna. She woke up to find that she was at grandma’s house. Anna was gone, and Emily stared at the house as if she saw it for the first time. What always seemed a beautiful and inviting sight now had an air of finality and sadness. She fought the feeling for she knew that grandma would be coming out on the porch to greet them. Her mother had told grandma on the phone that they were moving to New York, and knowing that this was the last time that Emily would see her for many years made her eyes well up with tears, and her lip quiver. She bit her lip to stop the trembling, and pulled on her golden hair to redirect her emotions from sadness to physical pain. She knew that her father would be angry if he saw her cry. Grandma finally stepped out onto the porch, her weathered face seemed older with her smile gone and Emily pulled her hair harder to stop her tears.

For Emily, her grandma gave her not only unconditional love but a sense of wellness. The constant criticism of her father and indifference of her mother made her feel inferior and flawed. Her grandma gave her the feeling of acceptance and freedom to be herself. The positive role of her grandma was amplified in her young mind, and significant to her mental development. The loss of her grandma left a critical abyss, which Emily would need to fill in order to survive an intolerable childhood.

To my readers, how will she fill this void, or will she? Are the memories of her grandma, and the wellness that she felt in her presence enough to sustain her?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Losing a Lifeline

It is never easy to lose a lifeline, whether it is a job, a duty, a person. It’s that anchor that safeguards you when life becomes unbearable. The more barren the life, the more significant the lifeline. In Pages in the Wind, Emily loses her lifeline when her father is transferred to New York and she must face a life without her Grandma and without Reid. As her mother informs young Emily that they will be moving to New York, Emily cannot process the information and the loss of the two people in her life that make it bearable.

     Emily could not take in what her mother was saying. She stared at her trying to understand why her mother was saying this to her. She had always lived in San Francisco, and she knew that her parents loved the city. It never occurred to her that they would leave. She would be leaving her grandma and Reid, but taking the nightmare with her. Her mind raced trying to make sense of what her mother said.

In the weeks to follow, Emily has to face the loss of both her grandma and her Reid. They were her links to the real world. When she was with them, she did not have to pretend to be someone else. When young Emily was with her grandma and Reid, her mind could focus on reality because that was good enough. Everything else was a fantasy, for that was the only way that she could endure her father. With the loss of her lifelines, young Emily will be forced to face her reality without a buffer and without a safe haven. How she will cope with her life without them will be critical to her psyche as well as influence her future.