I was eight the first time I noticed power lines. On a backseat drive through The Rocky Mountains I spied orange balls hanging from long ropes high above the overpass. I imagined they were basketballs that had once belonged to children, tossed so high even daddy’s with ladders couldn’t retrieve them. I later found out they were signals for planes, but that takes away all the story, so I still go on pretending they are basketballs.
I took my first swim lesson at six-years-old, but I was 12 before I noticed lifeguards. My parents had raised me a pool rat, and that year I was finally old enough to walk down the main road to the pool unsupervised. Imagine my surprise when the towers and umbrellas and uniformed enforcers appeared overnight. I never even remembered the sound of a whistle…
I must have been 16 when I noticed security cameras, and properly learned how to avoid them. It had never occurred to me before that people took things that didn’t belong to them. I needed a challenge, or maybe attention, or maybe just some entertainment, but it seemed an easy way to gain all three. No one ever caught me though, and all I grew was boreder and less challenged and less seen.
I am 20 now. I’ve noticed homelessness, car accidents, fruit trees and criminals along the way. I’ve noticed the people that stare and the people that question and the people that spit. I’ve noticed manipulation and fear. I’ve noticed hatred. I am realizing that childhood is a magic that slowly fades over time, and by now, it’s very nearly gone. I’ve tried to squeeze my eyes closed so the ugliness of pain couldn’t make me go blind, and that would work if I never hoped to grow… but the truth, I am finding, is that I’d have never questioned power if I hadn’t seen the lines, and ugly as the world seems to me now… the power lines have been there all along.