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September 7th, 2009

An Old Gift

The first true teacher I ever had claimed he could fly. He also claimed he was from outer space. I saw no reason to doubt or judge him on either claim, so long as he stayed a true teacher and let me someday see the evidence, whatever it may be and in whatever form. I am still waiting, but he has thrown some marvelous peeks out into the world.

In Kentucky in 1994 on the way to yet another wedding, I jumped and jumped and jumped into the sky over and over again into a pool we all paid $0.25 each to swim in. Someone I was there with photographed me there against that sky.

Maybe a year later, I remember visiting him with his girl. It was late and I was about to leave their room to sleep. He looked over at his girl and asked, “Should I give it to him now?” She replied simply, “Yes.” He pulled this painting out of the closet and handed it to me.

That day in Kentucky, out in the sun and up in that sky, I got the worst sunburn of my life. The color of my back far surpassed the red of any hot hot bright bright red red sun.

This is my photograph of the back of the painter that day in Kentucky. It was maybe yesterday or maybe it was 15 years, either way I can still feel the sting all over my back.