Wednesday, May 14, 2008

thirteen

a photograph is taken of a small eighth grade class and is hung a few weeks before they part into the saber tooth jaws of high school
there are three girls that stick out - literally.
They stick out their chests.
They tightly cross their legs.
They tilt their head down and give their best shot at looking coy.
They make me sad.
One comes down and is delighted by herself. She smiles and for a second she looks like she should- a child with a glow, probably the same one she had as baby.
The rest of the girls come down and one girl shrieks in terror in what she thinks is a bigger deal in the long run of her life than it really is.
Others wait till the first girl speaks before relinquishing their thoughts.
"I look soooo old. I look like I'm 20 years old."
She looks thirteen. And I think to myself why 20? What a peculiar age. Has someone told her that? Why not 16 or 18? When I was 13 I remember thinking 18 was the oldest and coolest I could get.
"At least we don't look flat-chested."
"Well some people do...but not us."
"Look at my knee cap." She is wearing jeans in the picture. I don't know what was special about the knee cap.
Others join and the cacophony of shrieks and laughs and commentary rises to a piercing level that caps off into a sea of voices- none particularly distinct from the other.
I wait for the right moment, the right lull, to ask them to quiet down but instead I let them have this moment without interruption.
I wish I could say something that would make a difference in the conversation I just heard.
"Your twenties suck. Don't rush into them."
"Focusing on outer beauty is...bullshit."
"Get smart. Go to college...please."
Instead, I let it go. Maybe tomorrow or perhaps a day where my voice will mean something to these thirteen year old girls.

No comments: