Thursday, May 21, 2009

my last summer as a child

The summer of 1983 in Upland, California. I was thirteen. I would wake-up every morning and watch Gidget reruns. Having never grown taller than 5'1", I enjoyed watching the innocent adventures of the "girl midget". After the show, I would call my best friend and next door neighbor, Cathy Beasley. And the long summer day would begin.

Our days together would be spent playing hours and hours of Dutch Blitz, a fast moving card game that we were obsessed with. As the days went by, we became as adept at handling cards as Las Vegas dealers. Our hands were on autopilot as we slapped the cards down and talked about clothes and boys.

When we became bored of the cards, we would head out onto the street in front of our houses to hit a tennis ball back and forth. We took tennis lessons together that summer. It's the only sport I was ever interested in and, that summer, I even won a trophy. But we weren't really out there for the tennis. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the high school boys we had crushes on. The ones who didn't know we were alive and never did. But we held out. Hope against hope. Running out of the street when their cars went by and imagining that they saw us. That they saw beyond our childish frames. That they secretly loved us as much as we loved them.

Occasionally, we would play Barbies. It was always in secret. With pinky promises to each other that we wouldn't tell a soul that we still played with dolls.

At night, we would sometimes sleep in Cathy's parent's pop-up camper, parked in their driveway. We would pretend we were living in our own apartment. Grown-up and glamorous. Drinking Diet Coke and playing cards and giggling all night. Suddenly, the summer was over and school began.

The following summer, I had my first kiss. Cathy and I still saw each other, but it wasn't like the previous summer. We didn't play cards or Barbies. Boys were no longer something we dreamed about, they were now complicating our lives. When I was sixteen, Cathy and I foolishly let a boy come between us. Shortly afterwards she moved away and I haven't seen her since.

I often wonder, does she remember our last childhood summer? Those important days, filled with mundane card games? Does she remember the two girls, holding onto each other and our innocence as we teetered on the edge of adulthood?