9773 Comanche Ave.
By David Trinidad
In color photographs, my childhood house looks
fresh as an uncut sheet cake—
pale yellow buttercream, ribbons of white trim
squeezed from the grooved tip of a pastry tube.
Whose dream was this confection?
This suburb of identical, pillow-mint homes?
The sky, too, is pastel. Children roller skate
down the new sidewalk. Fathers stake young trees.
Mothers plan baby showers and Tupperware parties.
The Avon Lady treks door to door.
Six or seven years old, I stand on the front porch,
hand on the decorative cast-iron trellis that frames it,
squinting in California sunlight,
striped short-sleeved shirt buttoned at the neck.
I sit in the backyard (this picture's black-and-white),
my Flintstones playset spread out on the grass.
I arrange each plastic character, each dinosaur,
each palm tree and round "granite" house.
Half a century later, I barely recognize it
when I search the address on Google Maps
and, via "Street view," find myself face to face—
foliage overgrown, facade remodeled and painted
a drab brown. I click to zoom: light hits
one of the windows. I can almost see what's inside.
I rushed around Monday morning and early afternoon doing laundry (washed but not folded), finishing an article, and doing various other tasks because I knew my afternoon and evening were going to be busy. I did manage to get in a walk, since it was a spectacularly warm and pretty day in the 80s, but then I had to take a quick shower before Paul's parents arrived from Hanover. We went to California Tortilla in Rockville for dinner, then wandered through the downtown area (Paul stopped in the library to return books, I stopped in Cottage Monet to get perfume) before meeting my parents at VisArts, where Adam had a photo selected to appear in the Artistic Discovery Congressional Art Competition for High School Students.
I had never been to VisArts, so I had no idea what to expect. We'd been told that our congressman, Chris Van Hollen, would be giving out awards, and that only about 90 of more than 200 submitted entries had been chosen to be displayed -- Adam's being one of them. As it turned out, Van Hollen spoke briefly about the importance of arts in the schools, gave certificates of merit to all the student artists, and posed for photos with all the kids, not just the honorable mentions, runners up and winner, which I thought was very nice. Adam was bummed that he did not get one of the handful of top awards, most of which seemed to go to older students, but I think it's great that his freshman photo went into the display. We watched Chicago Code when we got home, fretted about the news from Japan and the economy, and fed the starving cats.
Adam and his photo of a snowy owl at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore at the Artistic Discovery art competition.
The artwork was displayed in the large gallery at VisArts, which has studios and classrooms for artists.
Some of the fiber artists were spinning and weaving when we left at nearly 9 p.m.
They served drinks and cookies before the speeches began.
Van Hollen, a couple of local politicians, and several artists and board members from VisArts spoke.
Here is Adam receiving his certificate from the congressman.
And here is Adam with his photography teacher, Mr. Foo, who had several other students with work in the show.