It wasn’t really so long ago; just long in the way things are when you haven’t gone very far or lived many years, I guess. I have too many memories to choose a favourite, but I think about this one now and then, and it’s happy.
I was thirteen, my hair was done nicely, and I was wearing my Sunday clothes. It was a church picnic day and those were the days I loved because we stayed long enough to make new friends and play games with other kids, even though I was too grown up for a lot of things, and too conscious of that. I was one of two thirteen year olds in the parish, and the other was a tall, quiet boy who was admired by everyone but spoke very little and liked best to spend his time entertaining the younger children after Mass. That day it was Cops and Robbers we were playing, and I was too old for it but it didn’t matter, because my fellow thirteen year old was playing with me. It came to the end of the game and we had a trial condemning him as a criminal, after which he escaped and, being one of the tallest out of our little group, I pursued. We ran from the basketball court past the playground and into the area where all the grown ups stood and talked and drank coffee because they didn’t know how to play anymore. I felt their eyes on me. But for a minute it didn’t matter - you know, being grown up and talking like a lady and having manners - because I was running faster than I had ever run before; I was flying, and laughing, and I cared for nothing but my precious freedom.
I never did catch him. I ought to have told myself he was too fast for me in the beginning, before I wasted my breath. Later in the day Dad had quite a good laugh as he recalled seeing me dashing by, skirts flying, neat pretty shoes pounding the pavement, and I felt so embarrassed I started to wish I hadn’t even joined the game, until I remembered how light and giddy I’d been … like a little girl again. So I decided I didn’t mind.
I guess I just want to be there again sometimes, forgetting about everything except a happy brown eyed boy and the feeling that nothing in the world is more important than tapping his shoulder and ending that wonderful chase.