Growing Up

I never finished public school. I got as far as third grade and I lost interest. I stayed at home and watched a lot of TV and took naps. My parents went along with what I did. They knew that if they tried and forced me to go to school, I wouldn’t have been open and I would have learned nothing.

Sometimes I would leave the house and take long strolls outside. I walked without a destination. I became fascinated with sidewalks. I loved their different sizes and textures. I liked how some were new and shiny, and others were faded by thousands of footsteps.

Some days I would go for a walk in the woods. I’d bring an axe with me in case I found a fallen tree. When I discovered one, I’d carve away at the tree. Sometimes I’d carve the figure of a tree. Other times I would carve a tombstone.

Five years went by. My father took me aside and said, “I wish I could leave my job and do what you do?”

I said, “Great.”

The next day he quit work and followed in my footsteps. Sometimes we’d watch the same TV show. Or if we had different shows we liked, we watched separately in different rooms.

He got a fascination for pine cones. He’d spend the entire morning collecting them. The afternoon would be spent investigating them.

My mother got upset at my dad for quitting his job. She’d say, “Why are you doing this?” He’d say something like, “It’s giving me the chance to finally grow the beard I’ve always wanted.”

She got so resentful of him that I said to my mom, “Why are you so angry at dad?”

She said, “Because I don’t want to work either.”

I said, “Okay, good.”

She quit work the next day. We had to get a third TV for the times we all wanted to watch different programs.

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