I’ve never been a country girl. Born on the Bayou, raised in the house. I liked books and TV…and Pop-Tarts. I didn’t like to be jostled. Still, I wanted to visit my grandmother because despite having one eye, living next door to a woman with 27 grandchildren and 12 house-bred chickens and having wild pigs that needed to be slopped we had a lot of common ground. Summer at her house was spent checking for Gremlins and snakes, but mostly playing outside. There were rides in the back of pickups, that time I fell off a giant ten-speed, picking plums and making meat pies with Aunt Pick.
What I remember most though is bleach and “hide and go get it”. Those left me branded. My ma’dea put a cap full of bleach in my bathwater and scrubbed my knees till they were raw. I was sun-kissed and my knees were dark. I hadn’t yet learned that dark equates dirty. I could never seem to get clean enough for her.
‘Hide and go get it’ was a game my older cousins played. They explained it to me by saying ‘You betta not get caught. If you get caught you have to do whatever’. I remember thinking I’d be good at hiding but wondering what kind of chores I’d have if I got caught. I wanted nothing to do with those pigs. Being fat and unfamiliar with my surroundings, I was the first one caught. I laughed and wondered what my chore would be.
Fingers. Hands. A mouth on mine. A body pressed against me. A big smile. A lesson. Many lessons. I learned I could be entered. I learned that fear and anxiety were neighbors. Mostly, I learned that feeling disposable and silly was part of being a woman. That lesson plays on loop.