For the Weekly Writing Challenge: Blog Your Block
Harry Walker was my neighbor and my very close friend. When the dark world around me became too shallow and dark to see, Harry would always be there to guide me along the way. His visions and the way he described the world to me was far more than I could have ever imagined myself. Harry was not only my guiding light, he was also my understanding of life itself as it beat in my heart each passing day.
We were both sitting on his porch that early afternoon, in the middle of the summer, dwindling away the time. I spent a lot of time with Harry then, because both of my parents worked and could not afford a babysitter. It was also hard to find one who was willing to care for a blind kid all day.
It wasn’t long before I became inquisitive.
“Tell me, Harry…tell me what the block we live on looks like.”
It was something that I had always wanted to know, but had never bothered to ask anyone.
“You’re asking me about that now, Bobby after you’ve been blind all your life?”
I was only 9-years-old at the time, but I guess to Harry that was a lifetime to a blind person. Old people are funny like that sometimes, they seem to have a morbid perspective about the dimensions of time.
Harry huffed a little, rocked back in his porch chair, then said, “Where would you like me to start?”
I thought about that for a moment, then said, “Across the street, Harry. Tell me what it looks like across the street from my house.”
I knew the lower end of Lake Wallenpaupack was across the street from my house. Lots of times I would hear the weekenders launching their boats at the slipway. I could hear the sounds of the splashes as their boats hit the water, and sometimes the way they would curse when they backed up their boat carriers too far into the water.
“It looks like an oasis, Bobby, it looks like a beautiful dream.”
That was an alarming interpretation from Harry, about the lake, I thought to myself. Isn’t an oasis something that is surrounded by desert, or emptiness? What did that say for what the rest of my block?
“An oasis, Harry? Isn’t that like a delusion, or an imaginary vision of something that is not really there?”
Harry became silent for a minute, then said, “Only in the movies, but in real life it is a place of beauty, my boy, the thing that quenches the thirst of a parched and dying man.”
“Interesting.” I replied. I decided to have Harry move on, he was already starting to dwell too deeply into philosophy. He had a habit of doing that sometimes.
“What does it look like next door to my house, on the left, Harry?”
Harry lived to the right of my house, exactly twenty paces away. The house on the other side of me was owned by Mrs. Spauster, who was a widower, and delightful, old woman. She was a bit annoying, though, and one who would always yell at me if I wandered too far onto her grass.
“You mean where Mrs. Spauster lives?”
“Yes, Harry, to the left of me.”
I may have been blind, but I knew the difference between right and left.
“It’s an old house, one that hasn’t been painted in a long time. Maybe if the rich, old hag wasn’t so cheap her house could be fixed up a bit.” Harry said, nonchalantly.
I admired Harry’s crass description of people at times. He always made me wonder if everyone in the world was that negative.
“What color is it, Harry?” I asked him, defiantly, as if I knew what colors were.
“An ugly, grey.”
My curiosity began to race.
“What about her windows, Harry? Do they have pretty curtains and drapes on them like my Mom’s windows do?”
I heard Harry’s chair stop rocking, as I guess he was leaning over to look past my house.
“Nah…just crappy, old blinds,” he answered.
I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what everything looked like on the block. Suddenly, and for the first time, I wanted to start exploring what my blindness had always prevented me from seeing. My newfound curiosity was suddenly kicking into overdrive.
“What about the fences, what do the garden fences in front of everyone’s houses look like, Harry? What does their grass look like? Is it cut nice and very green?”
Harry went silent for a moment, then said, “Hold on there, fella. Don’t you think you are getting a little ahead of yourself, here?”
I stopped talking. I realized that I was starting to become a nuisance, and someone so envious of the gift of sight that I was becoming too eager to steal it away.
And I wanted to see it all through the eyes of my friend, Harry Walker, and right away.
“Do you want me to describe everything to you, Bobby?
“Yes, Harry, tell me everything. Describe to me what I can’t see.”
I knew that was a heavy task for me to lay upon Harry, but I knew that he would readily oblige. There was nothing Harry would refuse to do for me because I was a young, blind kid.
For what seemed like hours that day, Harry described everything he saw on the block to me in exquisite, detail. When he was done, my mind felt like it had been saturated with an abundance of information it would take forever to sort out.
Finally, the afternoon began to end, and early evening took over the day. As we were sitting there, my Mom and Dad came home.
When Harry took me home that night, and I was walking into my bedroom, I overheard my parents talking to each other in the dining room. My Mom sounded like she was crying.
“I just feel so sorry for him, sometimes.” I heard her say to my Dad. “For all the things he’s missing out on, and will never be able to see.”
I stood there, by my bedroom door, shocked and listening to her as she cried and poured out her feelings for me to my Dad.
All of a sudden, a stark revelation came over me. It was something I had never thought of before, which was, that I had become a burden to everyone.
I stood there bewildered, and did not know how to react.
After a while, I wanted to walk over to her, and take her by the hand. I wanted to tell my Mom that it was okay and that I could see a lot of those things that she thought I couldn’t see. I wanted to tell her that it was not only her eyes that bore the burden of me trying to envision and understand what lies beyond the darkness.
I wanted to tell her that I had my friend, Harry, also to help me with that, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. My Mom always thought that it was only her responsibility to help me to see, because she had been the one who had given me birth.
When you are blind you have to tell yourself sometimes that no one person can see everything for you. No one person, no matter how much they love you should have to bear that responsibility alone.
It is a sight that I have to share the responsibility for with myself. And when I see things that other people do not see, I have to learn to share that with them also.
I am thankful I have my good friend, Harry to help me see. Like my Mom and Dad, his visions give me an insight to see the world in a beautiful and precious way.
Thank you, Harry, thank you for helping me to see the world in your own, special way.
Joseph E. Rathjen is a freelance writer and an Opinion Writer at 1World Online – America’s Fastest Growing Social Research Engine.
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