One afternoon, I went to the shed for a trowel. The honey bees trailed, flying through the doorway, swarming the ceiling. I grabbed the gardening gloves and looked up. More came. And more. There were thousands of them. “Is Sheff with you?” I asked, expecting an answer, as odd as that sounds. I watched and waited. They gathered in a T-shaped mass that framed the rafters, and I got down on my knees. Then, down on my back, the gardening gloves still in hand. I waited for them to say something. Rather, they came together, a gold-and-amber disco ball, bees zipping out from the spinning center, then descending, not falling, but aiming, a thousand bullets, on my skin. They were going to kill me, maybe finish what they started when I was seven, but then I felt their tiny fuzzy legs on my skin. My limbs vibrating with theirs. I slipped off my sneakers as the bees crowded onto my face and neck. I was not afraid. We hummed together. Their legs sticky on my eyelids. Ascending. Defying gravity. They felt like salvation. The sound had walls, tissue thin, and deep inside the cell, I saw Sheff shooting his arm into the air, a rocket, the bees flying out. We had our whole lives ahead of us. He straddled my red suitcase at the New York Public library. I shot my arm into the air. Then, saw that it was golden with bees. I heard a man’s voice, Jacob calling my name. The bees rose like sunlit dust.
I was told that I would grow up and be a bag lady for a multitude of reasons, including my fashion sense, my bleeding-pinko heart, and my hypersensitivity which rendered me an insomniac by the age of five. There’s a lot to worry about, especially in this day and age.
Back in the late 70s and early 80s, I worried about the impoverished, about the war-torn, oppressed people at home and across the globe, about nuclear war, death, dolphins, whales, the poor Native Americans whose lands and cultures were being obliterated, and more. I wore the original, Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute T-Shirt and as a latch-key kid, spent my afternoons picking up trash. Basically, I worried about the same things I worry about today.
By the age of 7, I wrote everyday. I could create my own world. I was safe. I felt invested in my characters. They were family.