I absolutely loved watching this scene play out Saturday morning at a restaurant where I was eating breakfast and talking with one of my best friends. (Pictures at the bottom)
These two little girls were in a play area outside the window. From a distance, the one looked pretty girly. Pink parasol, pink shirt, little skirt. Even her nails were painted to match.
The other girl, not so much. She was sitting right in the dirt, up against the fence in her tomboy clothes. She wasn’t really paying much attention to the other girl’s efforts to get that parasol open all the way. Instead, she seemed to be watching the other kids in the playground.
When you look a little closer, you can see the parasol girl wasn’t just dressed pretty. She was also pretty filthy and scraped up, muddy legs, bruises, dirty shoes. The other girl was drinking something and had an unattended dribble of it on her face.
The girls were hanging peacefully in the same space, but they weren’t really talking to each other. I didn’t know if they knew each other before that morning, but it seemed like they did.
Eventually the little parasol girl mostly succeeded, and propped that parasol on her shoulder. The other girl looked up at her. The parasol girl showed her something or said something, and then she walked away.
The little girl sitting in the dirt didn’t try to go with the parasol girl. Instead, she just watched her leave. And then she cocked her head a little more towards the rest of the playground, going back to watching all the other kids.
Maybe she was busy with something else inside her head, or maybe she didn’t have the heart to deal with whatever teasing might happen if she went over to play with the others. Maybe she just liked watching from where she was.
I looked like that kind of little girl, sitting in the dirt.
I never owned a pink parasol. I did have dolls and Barbies. But they spent most of their time in the trees, waiting for rescue from emergencies only one of those Tonka trucks I wanted to play with could handle.
I didn’t paint my nails, I chewed them, even when they were full of dirt. I chewed and picked my lip, too. My shins were filthy, scraped, bruised and scabbed looked like that parasol girl’s, but they were as skinny as toothpicks. And most of the time, I wouldn’t let anyone see them.
I had a hard time sitting still, so I don’t know how long I would have sat in that dirt. But my head was always full of thinking, and I didn’t often get too close to any of the rest of the girls. When I did, I was always looking for the kind of girl who didn’t notice how dirty and beat up her shins were. I was always hoping for the kind of little girl who would take a break from the rest of the kids to come over and hang out peacefully in my space, even if she was doing her own thing.
And I wouldn’t have even minded her having a pink parasol, cuz that hang-onto handle would have been handy helping the Tonkas rescue those useless dolls from their tree-stranded tragedies.
~ cj 2014.03.23