March 13, 2009
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When I was a little girl I would dance up and down
the sidewalks of my town. Being barefoot, my feet
would inevitably get dirty and cut up, but I didn't
think about that. I wanted to feel the light wind
through my even lighter hair of youth. And I happily
did so. My mother would say, 'Rosa, you're going to
get hurt. Rosa, you're going to get dirty. Rosa, come
inside,' but she never actually made me.

When I was a little girl I would play in the park, and see
a white and whimsical feather floating through the air.
I would think it was beautiful, and I would clutch it to
my breast, before deciding to put it in my hair like
Pocahontas, or simply tickle my blushing cheeks with it.
To my child's mind, it was a gift to me, from a bird who
had moved on to a different town, to give some other
lucky little girl her very own feather, as he had given to
me. But when I put my feather in my hair, or brushed it
softly over my face, my father would say, 'Rosa, put that
thing down. Rosa, imagine how dirty that is,' but he
never made me put it down. And I did not imagine how
dirty it was; how could it be dirty? It was as white as I
imagined heaven to be.

When I grew up, I would walk down the sidewalk
to get somewhere. I had to go to the store to buy
myself food, because it did not appear magically
on my table at 6:30 anymore. I had to go to school
so that I could walk down that sidewalk to college
so that I could walk down a different sidewalk to
get to work one day. While I did this walking, I put
on my shoes. If I didn't, I one day realized, my feet
would get hurt and my feet would get dirty and that
would not be worth the dancing that was not worth
anything anyway.

When I grew up, I would walk by the park, and look at
the children rolling in the grass, or playing with something
I could no longer see. Sometimes, when I grew up, I would
sit on a park bench and read a book, because that was how
I could imagine things; I could have other people do it for
me. When a feather would drift down and land on my
shoulder, I would brush it off, because it probably carried
a disease. The bird it came from probably had the bird flu,
and although once white, it was now as dusty and
grime-filled as the dirt beneath my feet.

When I grew up, nothing was the same. I couldn't
be alone and yet in the presence of friends anymore.
When I grew up, I could be in a room full of people
and still be the only person there. When I grew up, I
had to accept the fact that everything is leading up to
something that is leading up to something that is
actually leading up to nothing. When I grew up, I had
to look at things for what they are, not for what they
could be, used to be, or will be. When I grew up, I
learned to look at things for what they are not, what
they lack.

When I grew up, I realized I had not grown up at all. I
realized I was not even middle aged, and that I still had
every door open. But then I kept growing up, and I was
told by people who had already grown up that everything
was already decided because everything had been decided
by me before I had grown up. But before I had grown up, I
would not have wanted myself to grow up, but now that I
am grown up, I can see that growing up is inevitable.

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