Letter to My Son Who Will Never Read This

Letter to My Son Who Will Never Read This

I won't say that I picked the father of my children based on his math skills, but it didn't hurt. 

I had hoped when the time came for us to have children, that the colorless world my ex-husband inhabited - one of fractions and solid lines, of clear formulas and perfect 90-degree angles - would somehow drown out my own. 

Because through the monochromatic eyes of my ex-husband, I saw what success and accomplishment looked like when it was untouched by the need to feed an insatiable, invisible hunger. I sensed the satisfaction of the straight and narrow, witnessed how wide the world opened with endless possibilities when looked upon by one with limited vision. 

In short, I learned: the world is less crueler to the left-brained. 

And this, I wanted for my children.

But that didn't happen, despite my ex-husband and my best intentions. Despite the math camps, the afternoons teaching them the chemical makeup of deoxyribonucleic acid and the beauty to be found in decomposition and fusion. In the end, my chaos prevailed. 

My daughter was a foregone conclusion almost immediately. She began singing when she was four-years-old, breaking into a Little Mermaid song by the fireplace, her voice a perfect vibrato. By the time she was thirteen, she was playing piano and writing songs on the ukulele. 

There was still hope for my son, however. Just having that Y chromosome gave him a leg up, or so I thought. But in the third grade, he came home with a first-place certificate. He had won a school-wide art content, one that I hadn't known he entered. I clipped the certificate to the refrigerator and wept for days. (When I look back, I should have seen it coming. One of his first words was "colorful.") After awhile, I put my big girl pants on and said no matter what, I would support him. It would take years before I learned to encourage him.

So, Kaya, here we are. 

I'm doubtful that you will ever read this because you don't read anything. I didn't pass on my love of books to you, although I hope one day you will learn to appreciate what words can do as much you have embraced the universe of color. After all, people can change - a fact that I am just now learning (see below).

I'm proud of you. I really am. I'm proud of your talent, and I'm proud of your dedication and desire. I want you to know that whatever happens, just having determination alone is your door. You don't need Interlochen. You don't need the Art Institute of Chicago or that place in New York that we can never remember the name of. You have a natural gift and the willpower to move ahead. No one can give you that. No one can teach you that. 

Kaya at Interlochen, August 8, 2022

But you must stay steadfast. 

Art is a blood sport. But worse than any other sport, you are not competing against other people. You are competing against yourself. The greatest minds of my generation - the greatest artists, writers, and musicians - sell insurance or work in department stores for a living. I don't mean to be condescending. Most jobs are noble simply by their existence (someone has to do it), but still - what a waste. The only reason I - with my meager accomplishments - achieved any modicum of success was because I wanted it more than they did. Every rejection letter, every door slammed, every well-meaning friend or family member telling me to quit, be happy with what I have - I took that as a sign that I needed to work harder. So I did. And so must you.

On the way back to the car yesterday, you accused me of putting people in boxes. You said I create a composite sketch in my mind and I stick to it. I don't allow people to grow. 

I appreciated your honesty. And you're right. It's one of my biggest character flaws, and probably one of my biggest faults as a writer. When you're writing a book, you have to give your characters a chance to evolve and change. Otherwise, there's no story. 

So, I want you to know, I'm dedicated to changing my ways, and I'm dedicated to your story, knowing full well that I am not the maestro behind the keyboard this time. I am just a bystander. Your journey is your own, and I am just another reader, and that is okay. I will remain engrossed with your plot, holding my breath for every twist and turn, and cheering you on until the final page. 

You are the author of your own story, and I love every word you haven't yet written.

Keep going.

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