This time of year, my wife and I look for ways to give special gifts to friends and family. This year, we are sort of in luck, our little godson, Cody, just turned one; kids at his age seem to change almost daily. For our “daughter of the heart,” Kelly, we have arranged a very special Christmas gift: a nice professional photograph of her girls Hayley and Jessica along with little Cody. Our friend Ron is a professional photographer; we asked him to take the pictures.
We wanted to do them in Lake Eola, but there was a festival going on there. We ended up in Barber Park, the public park not far from our house. It’s a nice place, and it even has a section for dogs. Naturally, we brought Juliet along; and she had a nice run.
After that, we set to work on the shoot. We asked Ron how he wanted to set things up. He said he didn’t want to set anything up. His idea was to let the kids run and play on the playground. He’d stand off to the side and snap as many pictures as he could. We told the girls to go play, and then helped Cody get on some of the smaller amusements. He really liked the swing.
It turned out that Juliet was quite popular. Many of the little girls and boys wanted to meet her, pet her and get a kiss from her. I held her leash and tried to make sure they didn’t overwhelm her. The last thing we needed was her nipping someone. All the while, Ron just moved about the park, snapping away. As the minutes clicked by as well, we moved the Cody and the girls to a variety of activities, to give Ron plenty of different shots from which to choose.
As we took a breather, I sat off to the side with Juliet. Barber Park is a wonderful place. Right next to a school, lots of swings and slides to play on, a Rollerblade park, grills to cook on, and, of course, the dog section. This day it was particularly crowded. Frankly, the place was packed! Everywhere I looked, I saw families enjoying themselves. There was a birthday party, some sort of family reunion, and just friends with their kids hanging out. It made me feel good to see the park used and so many people having fun.
Then I noticed something. I noticed that I was one of the few white men in the park. How few? I could count all of them on the fingers of one hand. As we continued with the shoot, I kept scanning the area. I could see the future of America written around us. The days of white men dominating this country are certainly numbered, and that day made that quite clear. It made me wonder: what sort of America will my godchildren grow up and live in? It is definitely going to be one that pays more attention to the needs of minorities, if for no other reason that they won’t be quite the minorities they were in the past.
Finally, we got the last shot. We sat the kids together, took their shoes and socks off, and had Ron get some pictures of their little toes all grouped together. Other than Cody being a fit fussy, it was a great series of pictures. I’m sure Ron will be able to clean up several of the photos and make them shine!
As we left the park, I thought about what those pictures would mean to us in the coming years; a snapshot of the kids in their youth, and America in its transition. How will both turn out? Who can say?
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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