Excerpts from "An American Childhood"
July 5, 2005
[After a huge childhood run, a scientific test just to make SURE that people couldn't fly by running and flapping their arms] "What could touch me now? For what were the people on Penn avenue to me, or what was I to myself, really, but a witness to any boldness I could muster, or any cowardice if it came to that, any giving up on heaven for the sake of diginity on earth? I had not seen a great deal accomplished in the name of dignity, ever."
"Do you advocate the overthrow of the United States government by force or violence?"
Before I had watched [the amoeba, now caught by microscope] at all, I ran upstairs. My parents were still at table, drinking coffee. They, too, could see the famous amoeba. I told them, bursting, that he was all set up, that they should hurry before his water dried. It was the chance of the lifetime.I guess this is how I feel about relationships in general...I mean, I also crave a bit of admiration, and for recognition that "hey, that IS cool..." but besides that, pursuits are personal and don't always need to be shared to a non-trivial extent.
Father had stretched out his long legs and was tilting back in his chair. Mother sat with her knees crossed, in blue snacks, smoking a Chesterfield. The dessert dishes were still on the table. My sisters were nowhere in evidence. It was a warm evening; the big dining-room windows gave onto blooming rhododendrons.
Mother regarded me warmly. She gave me to understand that she was glad I had found what I had been loking for, but that she and Father were happy to sit with their coffee, and would not be coming down.
She did not say, but I understood at once, that they had their pursuits (coffee?) and I had mine. She did not say, but I began to understand then, that you do what you do out of your private passion for the thing itself.