It was probably in my seventh year, or so, when I became aware of the daily news. My cousin Tim and I started hanging out that year. We became good pals. Best friends, when we saw each other. Their family lived at Indian Lake, but he started spending more time with us. The spinning of the world happens that way sometimes. His Mom, my Aunt, got word of cancer. So Tim, a year younger than I, came our way more often.
I didn’t really know the whole big picture at the time. I’m not sure he did either. But during those few years, we were thick as thieves, he and I.
I thought of this as I read through the headlines this morning. They can be completely overwhelming. If I spend too much time thinking through the outreaches of any one story, I get sad, or angry, or hopeless. So I try to be “aware” of the news, staying vigilante. And if the rare opportunity comes along where I can actually “do” something, I do.
But the news used to be a fun thing, for Tim and I. It was a pretty big process. First we would get the Dayton Journal Herald, or the Dayton Daily News, depending on the time of day. We’d start with the front section and spread it all out wide, on the bumpy olive green carpet, in the living room of our house on Bruce Avenue.
Then we would stealth our way into the kitchen and fix two gargantuan bologna and onion sandwiches on white bread. We’d put them in the microwave until they were hot, and almost sticky. Then, We’d either slice them on the diagonal, or roll them up from whole. Either way, those sandwiches were five-star dining to a couple of hungry ruffians.
Then. We’d go back to the newspaper and read the headlines. The more gore, death, and destruction, the better. It felt like we were being sneaky, as we learned of all the peril in the world around us. His dad, my Uncle, was a Detective for the Coroner’s Office for Montgomery County. So we already had heard whispers from the fringe of adult conversations.
But to us, that newspaper was like some sort of covert adventure, and we looked forward to our daily dose. We always ended with the Comics, for good balance, I suppose.
Such a different view of the news — I had — in my seven-year-old body. I delighted in the mystery and intrigue, and the danger. These days, I curse it. Mostly.
Which then made me think about all of us. How we are all our same persons — the same vehicles — that we were as our seven year old selves. I was Polly Kronenberger back then. And as I sit here today, I am still that Polly Kronenberger. All my IDs say so. But that is were it ends. I no longer have the same body. Not really. And I certainly don’t have the same mind. Or the same spirit, the soul.
It has all gotten older. Sometimes wiser, sometimes not. Certainly more exposed and jaded. Parts of me I have kept. And some parts, sadly, I have lost.
Time does that to everything. That little hand spins around the face, and everything before it, changes. By the second. We may not notice the small increments. But it goes. And it does.
And tomorrow, there will be a different set of headlines. And for good balance, another set of comics.
“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”
― Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing
“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book