Every time I pick up a pen to begin, I see the little girl in the oversized t-shirt with straight brown bangs hiding her big blue eyes.
I can’t remember when they turned hazel, only that it’s been too long since I’ve stopped to really look at her.
The she she’s become.
The she I write about.
There’s never one manifestation and maybe that’s the hardest part.
She’s about as possible to pin down as the fly that always darts away from the swatter just in time to live another day in this volatile world.
That’s the greatest lesson she’s given me—that if you can run fast enough, the world will never be quick enough to trip you up on the sidewalk.
You’ll always come away from this world with a few skinned knees; that’s inevitable. But there’s a difference between bleeding until you’re all bled out and clotting the wound before it’s too late.
She’s an expert in traversing the space between the two. I watch the way she hops, skips, and jumps from one lifestyle in the suburbs of Philadelphia to the country of the Deep South.
If God laid out a hopscotch board and asked her to master it, she’d go forwards and backwards without a second thought.
I’d be the mess of limbs on the side of the chalked canvas, lacking severely in agility.
But she does something quite amazing without even being asked.
Hard like the hug that sucks the air from your lungs. Deep like an ice cream scoop clawing for the last hunk of mint chocolate chip at the bottom of the half-gallon carton.
You wouldn’t know it just by looking at her. You’d think her a bit like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde mixed with Regina George in Mean Girls.
She wears the strappy black heels and anything animal print, as long as it fits the rest of her outfit. She’s always put together like the Barbie doll you dress and accessorize before she gets in that hot pink convertible for a night on the town with Ken.
But the great thing about Barbie is that she can be whoever you want her to be.
And this Barbie?
She chose to live by her own standards; she believes in the radical philosophy that working hard will get you where you want to go in life, but partying hard comes with the territory of being a college student.
She’s quick with a joke and free with her smiles; she lends Skipper her favorite pair of gladiator sandals, so someone else feels magical for a night.
And that’s her best gift:
The magic that bleeds into words I’ll remember when nights give way to early mornings and college becomes not somewhere I’m at but something I used to know.