Whenever we visited my grandparents in Seaside–a beach-side town near Monterey–I felt like we were going on vacation. I remember playing in their beach of a backyard, cupping the white sand with my hands and watching the fine particles filter through the gaps in my fingers. I was six years old. I touched the top of my head–scorching hot. My black hair absorbed the heat like a cactus sucking in water. I looked up at the sun through my new black sunglasses, lifting them to see the white sun un-obscured, wincing.
I had pleaded with my mom for the pair of sunglasses at Long’s drugstore. She had shaken her head, pushing the tiny cart forward through the narrow aisle. Then as we prepared to check out, she had relented.
After playing in the sand, my eldest cousin suggested we walk down to the playground. There were five of us girls, ranging in age from 6 to 13. Just like I’d been content filtering the sand through my fingers, I swung happily–Hush Puppies extending and flexing in a rhythmic whirr.
Three girls my age ring-fenced the swing-set. They were scowling. I ground my feet to a halt. One of them screamed, “That’s my swing. I’d tap-tapped on that swing and you’s on it.”
I scanned for my older sister and cousins for their support; they were no where. I slid off the swing with a meek cry of appeasement, “Ok, it’s your swing. I’m off now.” The same girl screamed again, “But I’d tap-tapped it and you were swinging on it. That was my swing!”
I ran up the hill. They raced behind me, caught up to me, and grabbed hold of my sunglasses. The screamer broke them and handed them back in pieces. I whimpered. Tears were streaming down my pink flushed cheeks. Surprised, the screamer consoled, “I’s so sorry. I didn’t mean to break it. You’s ok?” She put her arm around me. Her two friends patted the top of my head.
I grew up that day–or became more suitable for the real world.