Outsider: Self-Portraiture based on a childhood memory
Updated: May 25
There’s a package of reinforcements on the ground in the living room. And because I’m humorous and eight I decide to stick them all over my face. My mom sees me and gives a slight smirk not with her mouth but with the tip of her head; she tells me to take them off because we are about to drive my brother to his Taekwondo practice. And because I’m eight and most clever I race to my bedroom and create a sign - hide it in my pocket. Eight and careless I don’t listen to my mom as she repeats for me to take off the circles I’ve stuck on. I leave the house a scrapbook, and mom who knows she won’t win against my eight years of will says nothing as we drive away.
We’re surrounded by traffic.
The time is now.
I scramble to retrieve the sign from within the depth of the black hole I stored it in. Firmly I press it against the backseat window. The driver with his hard face between the four wheels next to us meets my anticipative gaze. I put my fingers together in the way that I saw the people in Star Trek put their fingers together and make funny faces. The sign reads “ I come in peace.”
And before all of this I’m laughing.
I laugh because it must be 6 PM because my mother is cursing the people in front of us. She calls this hour “rush hour” and because I’m eight and have all the time in the universe let alone the world, the laughter turns into a small protest of joy that drowns the man on the radio who thinks he’s “the funny one”, and consumes every cell within my body. I’m weak with happiness, the sign is starting to slide out of my hands. Then I see my brother start to scream with his physicality as he crouches from sight of his window in the passenger seat.
With the force of gravity my sign falls. And with it the composure of the man who’s still watching me, as his full set of teeth reveal himself to me and his head tilts back, like earth on it’s axis. From where I’m at I can’t hear the sound coming from his mouth. But I don’t need to hear to know.
The red light turns green. The man whose face is now soft, nods as if to say thank you.
Everyone is in a rush.
My mom to go home. My brother for it to all be over.
If they joined me
within the joy I shared
they could have seen
that just for a second -
I stopped time.
Now I stick reinforcements on my torn-overdue homework. And miniature pimples replace where they once stood fifteen years ago.
The following photos were taken by Kapkeo Bhimani of Kapkeo Creative.