Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Outtakes from "The History of Me," me being her

My daughter's first kindergarten homework assignment was a project called "The History of Me." Her teacher wrote home in a note, "We will be assembling a class book which will 'show and tell' about each one of us." We were asked to fill up two pages with pictures of "anything which makes your student feel special or happy."

We can do that! That's what we do.

That's what we did. Being a "show and tell" guy to the bone, with a daughter just like me, in that respect, we probably overdid it. I fancy myself a curator of an imaginary museum in the basement, and after I deputized my daughter as co-curator, she carefully prepared an exhibit all of her own in one corner, appropriating objects from the larger collection and taping up mysterious scraps of paper for reasons known only to her.

Needless to say, we dived right into curating "The History of Me," me being her. It turned into a fairly thorough archival effort involving the excavation of every family photograph we could lay our hands on. The ones she chose for inclusion in her project, as often is the case, puzzled me. The picture with the most people in it features cousins in Togo she has met once and could never name individually. As an only child, maybe that was the idea; maybe she was trying to craft an image of herself as surrounded by so much loving family she couldn't even name everybody. Which is true.

"I love all my cousins," was the caption she dictated for that particular picture.

Since "The History of Me" has a print publishing venue (Leyla's classroom scrapbook), I'll just run some outtakes up this here flagpole. This picture is a typical scene from the workshed of my wife's brother (my brother), Eric Akwei, a reggae musician and carver who lives in the hills of Aburi, outside Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Eric has a barn full of his handcarved sculptures. He deserves a brother in "the white man's world" (as Africans speak of America) who knows how to sell things.

Alas, I only know how to treasure things.

As I was writing this bit, Loudon Wainwright III was singing a love song to a young groupie on Roy Kasten's radio show on KDHX. "Come up to my hotel room, save my life," he sang to the girl he didn't know. Damn, am I glad I didn't grow old as a traveling musician!

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