Monday, January 16, 2006

the heart-shaped box

By third grade, we had moved to a new town, the last town we would move to together as a family. In this new town, at school, I was in the popular crowd, inexplicably. I was friends with the blonde girls, the ones that dyed their hair already, the ones that in three years, already blooming with pink lipstick and breasts while I stayed dark and thin, would drop me just as sudden.

And then I was friends with her, her that was friends with everyone.

We weren't close friends. She never came over to my house, and I don't know if I ever went to her's. But she left early, and she left me with a few things: memories of the way she dressed (dresses over jeans at nine!) and wore her hair (short like a boy's) and sang and danced.

She must have come to my house, to my party because she gave me a present when I turned nine: a box, a heart-shaped box made of porcelain.

In the spring, she and her little sister were killed.

I am a sentimental person. I love and it's important to me to be left with something, some memory of love. Otherwise-elusive, flimsy, invisible thing-how will I know it happened? How will I know it was real? She was real with her wonderful name, and her love of Cindy Lauper, and I don't know what she would have grown into: a dancer, a fashion designer. Famous, certainly. Or maybe not, maybe just an Ohio mom like those busty, blonde girls. We don't get to know.

I have this memory. I have: a porcelain, heart-shaped box with a lid that opens. Inside is a space big enough for a secret, big enough for my metals from 4-H and choir contests and talent shows, or the broken-off horns from my glass unicorn collection, which is what it held for years. The lid has a picture of a girl in a raincoat, pelted with drops. The lid says, when it's raining… The inside says, look for rainbows.

Aimnee, I am trying.