Boy as KingMy school sits on top of a rock hill. On top of that rock, a playground. On top of the playground, a play structure. If you scramble up the ladder that ascends the play structure, you can stand tall over bay, boats, and the shipyards that extend for miles. So yesterday, the last day of school, I headed out the back gate to descend the hill and looked back up to take in the end-of-year moment.

That’s when I noticed Isaiah.

He had climbed to the top of the structure and now had his eyes pointed east down a stretch of dry wheat grass that leaned toward the bay. I saw no one else on the playground. Grown-ups had all vacated so by five PM, only Isaiah, I, and a couple of drifters just down the hill remained. The crown of Isaiah’s head, because of where he had climbed, had now become the highest point on the hill.

Rail thin, unhinged, rag-tag, regal. I saw all of these things in a boy I had passed before without noticing. Though he had to have seen me standing nearby, no matter. He put in a pair of ear-buds and entered a time,  realm and reason of his own. He pulled off his t-shirt, and swung it over his head.  At his back, the low, sinking sun back-lit his silhouette in smoky orange. Then he started to sing.

I can’t wait to be king!

No one saying do this

No one saying be there                      

No one saying stop that                     

No one saying see here                      

Free to run around all day      

Free to do it all my way

Beyond the singing, the pulse of drums flew from within him. He danced with nothing but air to hold onto. He wriggled his fifty-pounds,  flashed big teeth, pumped twilight air into his bony rib cage, and kept on even after his trousers slipped and he lost a shoe. He went at it with such abandon, I caught myself wondering – Had he gone over to the other side? Did his mother know where he was? Would he be OK?

I decided to let his song speak for him. I would take him at his word – that Isaiah could not wait to be king.

I wish for many things. For example, that every boy (and every girl) at least once might know the expanse of arms outstretched, and the glee of full flight. Just once to stand on top, cloud kissing, singing out as if nobody cared and everyone craved. Might I even wish such a moment for myself? Or for everyone else?

Half way gone and still not yet. Not quite.

As I continued downhill, I laughed a bit. Up above, Isaiah kept singing. Drifters still waited and I joined them at the stop as the bus pulled up. Three of us stepped onto the bus together.  When the door closed, I listened into the quiet. I studied my seat before I sat down and then took my place next to the scratch-tagged window. The ride home would take a half hour.

Oh to be king of a rocky hill, guarded by grass, open from all sides, ruler of a song, protected from nothing, obligated by no one, liberated from the second guess. In command of my words and free in my thoughts. At peace and at one with the full-on and resolute in whatever steps I choose.

Not yet. But, I know that my time – our time – will come.


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5 Responses to King

  1. Kate March 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Well, my Liege , . . . Amen to that. I feel this way regularly (among adults no less!). While I silently surrender, I re-evaluate, or get creative. Or, I kick dirt and swear up a storm – to myself of course (I can’t always deny the Irish in me). “Ire”-Land = the land of pissed off people! Says it all . . . . 😉

  2. Michele March 31, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    Love this one. A lot. I’ve had the same issue during that period of parenting my children through the teen years. When to hold firm. When to bend. When to use humor. When not to use humor. It’s a learn as you go job. And parenting as therapy since I always came up against my own issues. Over and over and over the same damn issues. It’s so rich being human, isn’t it. I’m still working on the human part. Still trying not to try to be perfect, and to really understand that perfection is an impossible and counterproductive means of living.

    Thanks so much for your continued blog.

    I hope you are gathering them together for the book version. If you haven’t heard of Dear Sugar, it’s a new book by Cheryl Strayed that puts together the questions and her answers from her Dear Sugar advice column. When I’ve read your blogs, it reminds me of her writing. Relevant, funny, deep, and poetic. Keep climbing the hill, and don’t forget to enjoy the view at the top before you tumble down to start up again.

  3. Adrienne March 31, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    Me thinks you might be being rather tough on yourself? Just a thought,

  4. Em June 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    Oh to be king of a rocky hill, guarded by grass, open from all sides, ruler of a song, protected from nothing, obligated by no one, liberated from the second guess. . .Amen

  5. Sabrina June 24, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    This is really sweet~I hope your first year was what you hoped for! Now it’s time to relax, reflect and enjoy just thinking about one.

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