Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Lonely Girl

I spent a great many hours alone as a child, despite having a little sister. You see, in her infinite wisdom, my mother decided at some point that the only friend I should ever need was the one she made for me with her own two ovaries. My frequent pleas for playdates (what did we call it back then?) and sleep overs were met with staunch opposition. "Go play with your sister", my mother would say from her perch on the end of the couch. Her gaze would be firmly fixed on an episode of Matlock, the cigarette smoke curling around her head as she sipped a bottomless cup of Lipton Instant Tea. My only recourse was to refuse to be my sister's willing companion. I assumed that eventually my mother would catch on and say, "Okay, Heather can spend the night whenever you want and Uganda can come over too. I was only kidding when I said she would ruin the pillow cases." It never happened. Instead, my sister became the social butterfly. By the fourth grade, Brandy was hosting friends every weekend. If we were on good terms and not trying to kill each other, I would pretend that I didn't have anything better to do than hang out with them. In fact, I had no social obligations at all to prevent me from attempting to fit in with my sister's crowd. After years of never reciprocating sleep overs and missing birthday parties because someone "forgot" about it, I was friendless. I had not bonded with a single soul.

Today, I took Violet to the "good" park. We have to drive there, but I know that there will be other children for her play with. Children who, in general, are not acquainted with a case worker from children's services. I am alone again and I have this little person who feels it too and can't verbalize it or remedy it. There is a Mommy group of some kind and everyone seems to know everyone else. I try not to listen. I try to focus on the book I brought to read, while Violet digs in the sandbox. I want so much for her to just take off running with the other kids, but there aren't any other lone kids today. They all came to meet someone they already know. I chat with another mom. We swing (argh, the cursed swing). Violet heads back to the sand and I spot a potential friend. The child's mother is deep in conversation on the other side of the box. I actually say to Violet, "Introduce yourself." I make a face at the sound of my own voice. I have no idea how to do this properly. My anxiety is vibrating the sand under my feet. Luckily, all they needed was a little nudge to realize that they could shovel sand together. It isn't long before another little girl enters the box and they are actually playing. It is brief. Violet is hungry and secretly damp and her cheeks are a little too pink. So, we go get ice cream, alone.

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