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An ODE to Zoë

An ODE to the girl she was, an ODE to the young woman's she's become. I couldn't be more proud, and it's got nothing to do with her G.P.A. or the goals she might have scored. It's about the kind of person she's become. An ODE is a tribute, a recognition, an homage. Our children are not photo-copies, they are whole new versions that bear an uncanny likeness, to a self, that even as adults, we hardly know. I have, now, great hope for the future of this world because Zoë, and young people like her, are growing in numbers. She sees through unjaundiced eyes. There isn't a racist, homophobic, or judgmental bone in her body. She cares deeply about people and the environment. Her heart is large. Adolescence is a difficult rite of passage that flashes by so fast you can hardly grasp it before it's gone. If you blink you miss it. Suddenly you find yourself sitting across the breakfast table from some young woman or young man, wondering who is this doppelganger, this person I made, so many years ago? An ODE to the rite of passage that is youth in transition. Here is the stained glass window of a woman-child, a mosaic of eyes and smirks, that face you've seen ten thousand times before, at all hours of the day and night, in every variety of emotional expression, and you think back to that very first moment when the nurse handed you that swaddled alien form and you looked into those eyes for the very first time and were yourself reborn. That was the first day of your own life. That recognition. That crazy arrival. That surreal mitosis when you truly got the split and felt your insides burn with the fusion-reaction of what religion calls God-love. Boom. The universe was born. And there she goes, like a comet with a sparkling tail of ice and dust. Maybe kids are what ODEs were made for. Maybe it's all about them, the celebration of the mystery. You can't hold onto them. You can't make them stay little. That's like fireflies in a jar. But there are words, their words, and there are pictures. That's a firefly you can hold onto. Enjoy this little jar of bioluminescence. Just toss in some grass and pop some holes in the lid and it'll last as close to forever as we can come in this world.

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