Childhood Identity (Politics)

In this month’s Tiny Letter, I used last week’s nostalgic post as a jumping off point to discuss childhood, belonging, and identity politics. In it, I write:

That evening, we gather around the television in my grandfather’s home and watch the presidential debate shape up. President Ronald Reagan—a man whose name I’ve never not known—and Walter Mondale—a man whose name I never can remember—engage in some sort of gentlemen’s fight. I pour a second bowl of cornflakes, spoon on heaps of sugar, and notice my family, sitting in the dark, hanging on President Raegan’s every word. They are the Spanish moss to his  presidential cypress. I am the heron hunting food.

Between spoonfuls of flakes and sugar sludge, I try my best to stay inside the lines of my Return of the Jedi coloring book. My mother turns from the living room, asks whether I’m paying attention, tells me I could stand on a stage like that one day. I look at the television and hear the president’s voice as gentle as a grandfather’s, and I look back down to my Ewoks. Why can’t I color like my childhood best friend, Adam Sills? If I were president, maybe my mother and teachers would hang all their hopes on my Ewok colorings.

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