The Day that PT Anderson put a peacock on my Lawn
At age sixteen I left my house for school one ordinary Wednesday morning and found an extraordinary welcome to the day. I had my license and my own car by that point (Dave! I miss you Dave, my little BMW 2002), so I was on my own when I left the house. I stepped out the front door and there to greet me on the lawn was a huge beautiful male peacock.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, waking up in a similar fashion to how you woke up yesterday. You brush your teeth, shower, get dressed. You eat some eggs, maybe scrambled this morning to shake things up, brush your hair, check the mirror, grab your keys and head out the door to do another series of similar things you did yesterday.
Walking out the front door of your very developed, very suburban, very opposite of rural Sacramento neighborhood to find the most gorgeous and majestic creature sitting there to greet you for no apparent reason other than it's Wednesday. Peacocks are a trip. Evidence that evolution has an inspired imagination.
Every once in awhile the world stops turning for a moment. Sometimes thanks to beauty, sometimes tragedy, sometimes it doesn't make any sense at all and it's your job to figure out why things stopped. My first thought when I saw this peacock was PT Anderson. It was around that time that Paul Thomas Anderson became my favorite filmmaker thanks to Magnolia. He so beautifully infuses non-sequiturs into a story that force his characters to pause and figure things out. With this large, graceful, and somewhat intimidating male peacock on the front lawn of my ordinary home I suddenly thought I was in a PT Anderson movie. Was this an art house version of Punk'd? I loved it.
There must be some explanation for the peacock, but I'd prefer not to know it. An eccentric neighbor who kept exotic birds. A natural exhibition at the nearby college that got out of hand. There was an explanation. Or perhaps that peacock was just—there. Just for me. The world melted away and I wasn't a high school student worried about the homework I didn't finish in a vanilla suburban town. I wasn't on auto-pilot waking, showering, eating, driving. The world stopped spinning for a brief moment and the air swirled around in slow motion between this peacock and me. I remember the way he stopped and looked at me as I walked out my front door—how he proceeded to then glide across the lawn, so gracefully, his long plumes dragging behind him like a royal train. Did no one else see this? Why am I the only person in the world right now?
I believe in signs though I don't pretend to understand them. That peacock was for me. I held peacocks in high regard for years after. At any opportunity I bought peacock earrings or got a special tingle down my spine to see them at the zoo, etc. It wasn't until 2012 when I rediscovered my passion for writing that I really understood what that peacock was all about. An extraordinary ordinary life. My writing. My love of not just children's literature but more specifically a child's perspective.
I write for children not because it's easier (it's not in case you were wondering), but to explore a child's ability to find the spectacular in the ordinary. Children see the peacocks on the lawns which years of habit and routine make invisible to the rest of us. There are peacocks all around us. When I rediscovered my passion for writing that allegorical peacock from all those years ago became a Mother Goose.
My stories are Peacock stories.