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I loved television because it introduced new ideas, new imagery, new places, new people. My parents firmly believed that home should be both the center and periphery of a child’s life, and that television is an unhealthy distraction. I was kept busy in the house, or hanging out laundry in the backyard, and television was regulated at one or two hours each month. Consequently, my world stayed very small, for many years. When I came to realize that resistance was futile, I cooperated with my assimilation to this Borg-type collective, in the interest of survival. My longing for unrestricted access to a window was hidden inside me, waiting to be awakened. The day of my awakening was a summer scorcher, I dressed in the shortest shorts and the thinnest T-shirt my mother would allow, and wiggled around on a sticky kitchen chair, staring at my pancakes and syrup, looking for images and the suggestion of something more than here. Eventually they tired of me and I was dismissed to do chores, I watered the potted plants, checked on the slimy avocado pit I was sprouting in the windowsill, straightened up the surfaces of my bedroom, dusted our living room bookshelf and the barely-ever-used television screen, and washed the breakfast dishes. I relieved the washing machine of its load of floral sheets and bath towels, cycled the night before. I had done my homework to its rhythm. They had a faint overnight musty smell. I wrinkled my sunburned nose and placed the laundry in the red plastic tub, which still had the sticky adhesive residue that originally held its price in place. Using dishwater-shriveled, white, poufy-fingered hands, and a skinny pre-pubescent hip to wedge the tub against, I carried the sheets and towels to the backyard, to hang on the clothesline. The birds had left white pasty souvenirs of their digestive adventures again. After washing away the abstract deposits, I looked around the backyard with some satisfaction. Hanging laundry was, by far, my favorite chore. It provided a private world, in which I could day-dream to my heart’s content. Day-dreaming is like television, except you get to write your own story and choose your own characters and even be the star actress, if you want. The best thing going for it is that nobody could see it except me, so there was no one reacting to my watching it, or lecturing me on how it’s unhealthy and ruining my mind. Sometimes I would indulge myself in repetitive plots. I had crash-landed on a remote island, with no parents at all. There was a cave with a stream running through it and lots of berries and zucchini and tomatoes and a chocolate tree outside. A lifetime supply of pasta and meat sauce had crash-landed there with me, along with cases of sliced precessed cheese, so I was happy. There were many rooms in the cave and each held new wonders to explore, things like chests of jewelry and exotic costumes, boxes of books, endless art supplies, a music box. I spied on the daily lives of fish, birds, and an occasional lion family. Sometimes I daydreamed emergency plots, like the world had just blown up and everyone was dead except me. What should I do? Should I look for other survivors or should I find a gun and a strong and hidden place in which to stay safe? Should I choose to still engage with the life I had, or should I be highly disciplined about my withdrawal? Whatever the daydream, its attraction lay in the privacy of how permission was irrelevant, and the opportunity to watch things happen in a very different world with very different circumstances. Living in a closet, a window can be addictive, even the illusion of a window. I hung each sheet and each towel carefully, not in a random manner but in a purposeful design that gave me a
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