• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 01
Image by

Where Did You Grow Up?

The question of where one hails from
has special meaning for me because
where I grew up no longer exists as a place
one can go to or visit. I can go to the exact
coordinates and there will be nothing there.
Oh it exists in memory and the experience is
embedded in all that I am, but once I’m gone
even that marker will be gone.

As I grew to become a man, the island I call home
grew rapidly smaller and I don’t mean in the sense
of outgrowing a place, the way young adults
must leave home—I mean geographically, the island
where I grew up shrank to become tiny. How tiny?
So tiny one could walk from one end to the other in
Thirty minutes and as the distance shortened so did the time.
It was necessary to stay dry for everyone to move
closer and closer to each other until we joined
into one big family, living in one tent in the highest
part of the island. When we realized we could not
build horizontally we built vertically; one shack
on top of another, or up in the trees.

Those who struggled with claustrophobia couldn’t
cope and so swam out to join the horizon and were
never heard from again. Others consciously
meditated on being small, stopped eating which
only led to anorexia and more death. True enough
we welcomed it for the space newly made available.


Where Did You Grow Up?

We had shaman and their incantations and the scientists
among us developed medicines to stunt growth.
We studied in one room universities, packed from floor
to ceiling. We celebrated the smallest among us,
and made one our beneficent ruler.

Years on, the population dwindled as our island grew
smaller and smaller on its way to becoming the size
of a dinner plate, on its way to disappearing altogether.
When the water covered my ankles I knew it was then
I had to go. In the next lifetime I can say I survived,
to become a successful businessman on the mainland.
Because of my small stature I’m often asked where I’m from
and I point out toward the ocean. I tell them I grew up
out there on this tiny little island. I don’t tell them about
the nightmares: the horror of seeing your home,
your tribe, your family slowly sink into oblivion.