The Burden of Youth

My studio overlooks the street and I can watch all the comings and goings throughout the day while I work. Outside, flocks of crows dot the lawns and boulevards like so many black-shrouded gremlins, busily flipping over leaves or tormenting squirrels. At least a couple times a month one of the toddlers en route to the play school down the street will evade its keeper and make a wild dash down the sidewalk toward the intersection. Much yelling and frantic arm waving results. Often a much smaller child is abandoned in its stroller while a frantic adult tries to run down a turbo-charged 16 month old. There are also the daily dogs, walking their owners. Among them is the seemly-benign blonde cocker spaniel from down the street who never fails to lure in a victim with his deceptive cuteness before going all Hyde with snarls and snaps. Finally there are the kids walking to and from school. They are all shapes and sizes, girls and boys, fashion conscious and not so much, traveling by bike, foot, and skateboard. But they have one thing in common. They are more often than not burdened. Burdened with great huge walloping backpacks and all the things that come with school – with being a teenager. And because of this they all seem to have a distinctive forward stoop – back rounded, upper body angled forward. Their gaits are gangly, sort of loping – the product of uneven growth spurts. As they slouch by through my peripheral vision in jostling groups, awkward twosomes, or singly, this is the impression I get.

I remember those days – the bruises on my shoulders caused by my backpack during the daily transport of physics, math, chemistry and biology textbooks (the weighty sciences) between school and home. The weight has long gone and with it most of what, if not everything, I learned in many of those classes.