This I Believe

Cayo - Takoma Park, Maryland
Entered on August 14, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

In 1969, this I believed. I believed that the wish I made on my five birthday candles would come true. I believed in my mother and father, the tooth fairy, Santa, and the Easter bunny. I believed that Christ had risen from the dead. I believed that learning to read Dick and Jane books was the most miraculous thing that ever happened to me.

By 1970, this I believed. I believed that one day I would grow up to drive a blue roadster like Nancy Drew. I believed that Mother Mary would pray for us all. I believed President Ferdinand Marcos would make the Philippines strong. I believed that watching Commander Neil Armstrong stepping off of the Eagle and declaring “”one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” was the most miraculous thing I ever had seen.

By 1975, this I believed. I believed that the most profound words I ever had read were those of Pedro Calderón de la Barca: “¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,/ una sombra, una ficción,/ y el mayor bien es pequeño:/ que toda la vida es sueño,/ y los sueños, sueños son.” I believed that baby oil mixed with a few drops of iodine was the perfect salve for sun-tanning. I believed that Pink Floyd’s “The Great Gig in the Sky” was the most miraculous song I ever had heard.

By 1980, this I believed. I believed in the “Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet.” After reading, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Bugliosi and Gentry, I believed, quite fearfully, in motiveless malignity. I believed it was wrong that America had dropped a uranium bomb. I believed that The Communist Manifesto was the most miraculous political treatise ever written.

By 1985, this I believed. I believed the Coca Cola had gone mad when they took Coke off the market and replaced it with “New Coke.” I fully believed in motiveless malignity after the Tylenol Killer randomly claimed victims and remained at large — (had the killer chosen to poison Midol, I thought, the malignity would be focused on a clearer objective – Tylenol seemed target-less and thus all the more terrifying). I believed that my life had been changed forever as a result of seeing Lanzmann’s 9 ½ -hour-documentary, Shoah.

By 1990, this I believed. I believed my friends who had died from what had been called “GRID”/”ARC” were victims of Reagan’s homophobia and inertia. I read Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ “For the Etruscans,” and in her dialogue between voices and texts believed I had found the finest in feminist discourse. I believed in graduate degrees and kept seeking another. I believed that Wite-Out ® was the most miraculous invention-for-everyday-use.

By 1995, this I believed. After reading Wendy Cope and Billy Collins, I believed in poetry again. I believed in sperm, eggs, and reproduction. I believed the most miraculous thing I ever witnessed was the pregnancy of my partner, the birth of our daughter, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics held in Barcelona; as I write this, I still can hear my daughter’s first cry and Montserrat Caballe & Freddie Mercury singing out “Bar-ce-lona, Bar-ce-lona.”

By 2000, this I believed. I believed if I kept writing stories about them, I would come to understand my parents, both of whom were long dead. At long last, I believed I had found my religious community in the Washington Ethical Society where we place our faith in eliciting the best in ourselves and others. I believed in the Mediterranean Diet and the miraculous power of red wine to lower my chances of developing heart disease.

By 2005, I believed Barbie would stop being Mattel’s billion-dollar-baby — (I was wrong). I believed that the long line of terrorist bombs and natural disasters would change the way we look at the globe. I believed sitting on the sand as the sun rose and watching dolphins play at the horizon’s edge was the most miraculously joyous site.

In 2006 this I know, eliciting the best in myself and others is the hardest work I ever have done — (moreover, I don’t always do it well); teaching is a privilege, but should be better paid; meeting Sera was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me, and having our daughter lucky too; children should not hit one another and neither should countries; flossing on a regular basis would make me feel virtuous; recognizing we have the ability to connect to and remember – even those lives and histories that are not our own – is miraculous.