Drawing E.T. at the Kitchen Table

I didn’t want to go to work this morning. Not that I normally dread going to work, or don’t like my job, but this morning for some reason I just really didn’t want to go in. It was an unusual day where I was faced with a few hours in the early morning of being awake, before going to work. And I was sitting in my house, just thinking how much I’d rather be doing other things today, how much I did not want to go do something that, although I don’t hate it, has very little to actually do with me, with who I am or what I like.  Then suddenly I had a memory, a memory I haven’t dwelt in or spent time with for many years now.

It was the morning before I went to school for the first time. The morning before I went to kindergarten.  Obviously, this memory’s not exceptionally clear or vivid, not chockablock full of details. It’s a memory of a moment really, and a feeling.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, at the old house in Newville, with the paisley wallpaper and the smell of the outdoors and old appliances and corn husks and cigarette smoke.  There’s a feeling of dread. I’d known for days ahead of time that this was coming, but somehow I still thought there would be a way to avoid it, get out of it.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, and I am drawing on a piece of paper. The picture is of ET, the Extraterrestrial, and there’s a big word balloon, and in it is just repeated the letters E.T., over and over again. This is the sort of thing I did with my days before I was forced to go to school. I drew things, created little moments, characters, got lost in my own universes. Although I was exceptionally young and naïve, and I realize I may be having a revisionist memory, I swear that I knew in that moment at the table that nothing would ever be the same. I wasn’t just being made to go to school for the first time, I wasn’t just losing my golden dreamy life alone with my mother on summer days, I was losing everything, forever.

Although I could be creative for the rest of my life, and get lost in myself, and create universes on my off time, the world was never going to be mine again, not like it had been during those first few years of life. I sat at the kitchen table, feeling a dread and sadness beyond compare, drawing my ET, hoping I was wrong about the inevitability of every damn thing in the world, and I remember begging my mother to let me stay home. I don’t remember what words I used, and I don’t remember what she said back, but obviously there was nothing either of us could do. The tide of adulthood sweeps everybody into its wake. That is what I remembered when I was sitting on my couch this morning, and I swear to God, I almost wept. Then I got up and went to work

2 Responses to “Drawing E.T. at the Kitchen Table”

  1. Kyle Sundgren Says:

    OK what the hell, Seth’s Mom! Why couldn’t you let your son just skip schooling?!?! He was upset and drawing aliens. Those are the first two red flags of every serial killer. Jokes!

    The next time you find yourself about to embark on an inevitable life-change you have to remind yourself to draw another ET. At our age (year we’re both 30somethings now!) those moments might be far off. At the very least please draw the picture again right before your drop your application to join AARP in the mailbox. Let the artistry come full circle!

    • sethdellinger Says:

      That’s actually a pretty great idea! What a lovely, quirky little tradition to add into my life, I love it!

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