Monday, March 24, 2014

To My Children:You ARE a Star!


My Stars Take the Stage!

 My children have a flair for the dramatic! I am so happy that my son Bear is working in the drama department at school, helping with the sets and production. Bear’s creativity and quick thinking will surely be an asset.

I also want to apologize to Bear that I was not able to attend his school play, my car broke down and I was not able to get a ride :( But I was thinking of you, and sending lots of love! xoxo

I received a van from an auto donation program for needy families, and it was a “lemon”—from the time I drove off the lot, I noticed it needed some work. The office manager at the charity told me I received the van “as is” and they would not address any mechanical issues with it. The van barely held out for 6 months before it finally died…I am just thankful my kids were not in the car at the time, as it suddenly stopped, in the middle of the road, and could not be restarted. Thankfully, I was able to steer the van safely to the side of the road then it was towed away.

It really hurts that I missed out on Bear’s play, and so many other things I want to do with my kids… but I am even more so thankful that my kids have been so good to me, and so understanding through this challenge. They never complain and look forward to the adventures. Without a car, we have been playing board games, baking pies and cookies, and cranking up the music to dance around the house. My daughter Nora puts on plays with her dolls, her dramatic faces and soap opera plots always get a laugh. My baby JC latches onto his big brother and sissy like a koala, cuddling with them, even grabbing onto Bear’s leg and going for a ride as he walks…it has been so cold so being indoors is not so bad but I hope to have a car by summer so we can go exploring. 


WHAT I WANT TO SAY…. I started taking pictures when my family became homeless; photography offered me an outlet during a difficult time to express thoughts and feelings. In so many ways I had to be strong, and often held back what I felt. Photography became a way to shed those layers, to freely express myself. I also felt a purpose in capturing the story of being homeless, and giving voice to what we were going through. From there, I began to branch out, and soon was entering local contests and art shows.  Or I was writing and doing public speeches. I feel such a purpose in introducing my children to the arts, and helping them tap into their own creativity. My children and I meet so many interesting people attending art shows and events. An discovered hidden meanings in seemingly ordinary works of art. We explored different parts of the city, galleries hidden in crumbling buildings and visiting street fairs. And we deepened our bond as we framed our memories.

I had entered an art show on urban life, the pictures were being displayed in a historic theatre that is the cultural heart of an inner city neighborhood. The theatre is brown brick with a brightly painted front; the outside is rather unassuming except for the brightly lit marquee. My children and I stepped up to the Art Deco style box office, trimmed in brass vines with berry shaped bulbs giving off a soft glow, to take a program and collect name tags. Nora and Bear were the only kids in attendance, and I was just as proud to show them off as my own photography.



We walked on the black and white checkered tiles, through the square halls trimmed with plaster arches, commenting on the photographs and cheering when we came to my work. I took a picture of a friend, who is a musician, playing a guitar, capturing how his fingers danced over the strings. Another photograph showed a freight train stopped at in rundown warehouse neighborhood, in the background, the expanse of the city with its glass topped skyscrapers and marshmallow shaped sports dome, richly contrasted against the squalor. Other photographs displayed the people, neighborhoods and interesting sites of the city. The children and I sat in an area just off the box office that faced a mirrored wall, wrought iron patio tables were set up and we sampled bubbling lemonade in fluted glasses and nibbled on crackers with meat and herb cream cheese, luscious fruits and bakery treats. It was like being in a movie…meeting the local celebrities and artists, tasting the gourmet appetizers…and enjoying the beautiful theatre.

The theatre lobby was a bit crowded, so my kids escaped inside, pulling open thick doors painted crimson that led into a 250-seat theatre. The dimly lit theatre was almost completely black; the ceiling stretched two stories above our heads, decorated with twinkling lights to resemble a night sky. A heavy velvet curtain, also crimson, and trimmed with gold braid was pulled back to expose the narrow stage. All the lights were shining on the stage. Nora gasped, her eyes widened in her face as she slowly approached…dreams were forming in her head about that stage. Shyly, Bear came from behind, just as eager but with a slower approach. 

Once on stage, shyness soon disappeared! My kids danced, sang and put on their own show. I stood in the front row cheering and taking pictures. My children had been transformed…into movie stars! They played until they were tired, cranky and read to sleep…as we headed out of the theatre, towards home, they gave me an “autograph” of hugs and kisses. When I tucked them into the car, seatbelts snug around them, and blankets tucked on their laps, I could see in the flutter of their lashes and the quick sigh on their breath that my kids were dreaming big…that being on stage, even for a moment, had inspired them. 


-- Daylen Swift, March 2014




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