I wanted part of my soul to shine with that purple gloss of independence like hers did. I’d wait around after relaying my young thoughts or invocations for her eyebrows to arch over her large, grey eyes. I was originally drawn to her indiscrete way of telling everyone what was cool. She had balls. I wanted balls. I figured if I stuck around enough, she’d rub some of that purple off on me.
She was charming in a way all her own. She was no sun-kissed bee charmer in white cotton sundresses and dandelions, but close enough that I could catch a trace of the faint scent of honeysuckle and soap. She did put daisies in those thick blue mason jars, and she did wear dresses, though they were hand-me-downs of thinning rayon and polyester prints of puce flowers. She’d race ahead of me down the back slope to Bay City Crick. Through her eyes I did see jungle vines thick as pythons, crystal water bubbling and weaving around hundreds of skinny trees, tall as the sky. Rocky nooks and deep, green pools filled her eyes with glitter–we were on a secret, desert island, or deep in a lush forest of oak and elves. I felt the water. It was numbing and dirty. Black plastic bags and Styrofoam and shoes hung from branches or were lodged in the sand beneath the current. The ravine was about three blocks wide, between two overpasses that rained rock and oil and grit over their edges.
I quickly learned the difference between independence and disconnection–still struggling over whether there is such a thing as a balance of the two together. Disconnection was a kind of freedom that coursed through her system in ribbons. We would sit silent on our banana seats, watching a storm roll in over the fields beyond the tracks. We both waited for the cool raindrops to touch our tanned arms before we would race toward town. I needed my connections thick as bones–no–I longed for those connections thick and solid. And I didn’t understand how to encompass independenc