“This is our playground” said the new girl, and she shook her fist in an uncoordinated air pound at me while still clinging to the chain of the high swinging bridge. I craned my neck to look up at her. She was pretty, and she had deep brown eyes and was wearing pink shorts. She wore interesting brown leather shoes on her feet.
Her hair swung at her chin, just like my best friend Patience, who was currently peeking down at me from over the new girl’s shoulder. I felt robbed. I felt betrayed. I was still so naive. I didn’t care about the playground, or whom it belonged to; I just wanted my friend Patience back. I was four years old, and this was my first introduction to the adult life of an American woman. Politics, social climbing, drama, commodities, ownership, sides, a culture governed by pyramids, and right now the new girl balanced threateningly at the top.
I looked up at Patience, now a commodity, and felt betrayed. She had been brainwashed I was sure of it. Being that I was only four years old and did not yet understand the rules of this game, I did what any normal child would do.
My skin burned under my flower print shirt, cooking the water that soon filled up my eyes. Heavy tears dripped from my eyelashes, wetting my cheeks and leaving cool streams for the wind to dry. My cries boiled into bawls. The teacher came rushing over to extinguish my sobs. The new girl taunted me from her perch, calling me a crybaby.
“Hadley” said the teacher to the taunting new girl “you get down from there and come over here right now”
Hadley let her head go limp and swing from her neck as she shuffled from her bridge to the ground and then over to where we stood. Her outline was fuzzy through my swollen tear encrusted eyes. I felt suddenly ashamed of my tears and allowed my head to hang to hide them. We stood facing each other, both of our heads bowed. The teacher took each of out hands and connected them in an embrace.
“Hadley, say you are sorry”.
“imm sorry” she said.
“Now, shake hands and be friends”. The shaking of our hands startled me out of my post cry coma and suddenly I noticed them, up close, her shoes. They were covered in beads. They were dirty and worn and the beads were falling off, but they amazed and intrigued me.
“I like your shoes” I said. Her face lit up
“Really? You want to be friends?”
Here is where I learned the powerful art of manipulation. Flattery will get you everywhere. I nodded my head yes. We ran off to the playground and joined the ranks of the bullies in the sky.
I would like to say that I have grown up, and learned different ways to play on the playground. Walking away from the drama, and finding a nice patch of sand in the sandbox to meditate on, or choosing to swing on the swing set instead with some of the quieter kids…
However, I still want to play king of the hill.
The salad: Slice 6 baby cucumbers and garnish them with the sweetest leeks (3) and carrots (6 small slender) you can find. Add 2 fresh tomatoes sliced. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Easy and delicious (no joke, this salad is really tasty and simple.)
Christina’s vote: “This salad made me want to bite the hand that feeds me”