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A Thursday by the Pool

October 30, 2007

They found me in the closet. I had fallen asleep and didn’t hear them calling my name.

There were books at my feet and they all assumed I had gone into the closet to read. I knew better and there had been a much more visceral reason for my hiding. My cousin had been teasing me mercilessly after the kiss. It was innocent but it was filled with time and knowledge beyond our years. He was seven. I was six.

My cousin had been by the pool with us. She didn’t really know everything else that had happened. Mind you nothing bad happened. Nothing that was out of the ordinary. I didn’t even realize that she, my cousin was even paying attention. He was just so darn cute and well that was my first real kiss. So in my mind these things are all mixed up.

We were at some basic middle class hotel/motel with a pool and a deck that was pounded by the sun everyday. We, my cousin and I, were there for the National Convention held every year for the Churches of God Holiness, along with our mothers. Our fathers were off somewhere else doing god only knows what.

We had been given permission to go down to the pool. I don’t know why we didn’t have a grown up with us, but it doesn’t seem as if we did. We were playing , frolicking and diving into the water from the edge. I was scared. I didn’t really know how to swim all that well, but I loved the pool. It was so hot in the Atlanta summer sun and them to dive into the water that somehow remained ten or fifteen degrees cooler then the surrounding concrete, was just heaven. I remember there were two other children there, with either their mother or a nanny, but I don’t seem to recall too many details.

We all started playing, the four of us and for some reason I was sitting bedside the pool during a lull and that is when he kissed me. Now mind you, this wasn’t my first kiss. I had forced many a young boy in my kindergarten class just the past year, to kiss me or get beaten up. Yet, this was my first kiss from someone that I didn’t have to threaten, cajole, force or otherwise menace for the pleasure of a kiss. I was ecstatic and my heart sang and I played it off perfectly. I was six and it was still quite innocent but it went deep, very deep.

This was on a Thursday. Finally, it was time to head inside. I don’t remember or recall clearly what happened next. We had to go to church since we were there for the convention, but I begged for permission to go back to the pool the next day. My mom promised and I allowed that promise to sustain me as I left my seven year old lover. Only it rained on Friday and I wasn’t allowed near the pool. He was leaving on Sunday, as the family was in the middle of a month long holiday and were off to visit relatives somewhere else in the states. Saturday turned out clear and beautiful and I was going to Six Flags with my cousin and her friend. I hoped that we would be back before dark and of course we weren’t. I was devastated that I could not see him again. I thought maybe they would be at the pool on Sunday after we returned from the morning service. I rushed down to the pool as soon as I was able. I didn’t even want to put on my swim suit. I just had to see if he was there. No one was there. That is when I went back to the room and my cousin started teasing me about him. “Ria’s got a boyfriend, Ria’s got a boyfriend.” Being the sensitive soul I am, I immediately started tearing up as I simultaneously started lashing out at her to stop make her stop. Our mothers heard the commotion and put a stop to it. Neither of them were concerned about the cause of the outburst and that caused more tears to flow. Good thing I had learned to cry silently by this time. Tears didn’t even leave my eyes. I became sullen and uninterested in the television show my cousin and I had been watching. I wanted to cry and I had to do it where I could not be seen, so I grabbed a couple of books and headed to the closet.

All this seems so much like a fairytale, yet I know it happened. I know it’s real I just don’t have any proof, so I am going out on faith here and believing with all my heart. The heart that broke when I got back to the hotel on Sunday to find my two new friends were gone. That is when I understood with a six year old honest, unfettered, innocent understanding that my life was not going to be reasonable. My life was tied up in a kiss and in the friendship of two people I would most likely never see again. I was six and he was gone.

I stayed calm as I worked my way into the closet. In fact, my intent was to cry but I wanted to be comfortable doing it, so I grabbed the extra blanket off the shelf and the pillows that we used for the hideaway bed my cousin and I shared during this week of bliss and hell. I curled up and let it all out. I cried silently until I fell asleep. The adults had gone back to gossiping in the kitchen, my cousin was again engrossed in her television show and I was hiding with several books in the closet of the hotel suite. I remember it had a light in the closet. That was the first time I had seen an outside light switch for a closet. I said goodbye with those tears. I closed my heart to the knowing and got on with life.

Several hours later, it was time to go back to church for the evening round of save my soul and singing and no one could find me. I was still in the closet dreaming of our life together one day.  I had dreams of our marriage and our children and our living and playing and laughing but there was no crying. I was six. You are still in my heart.

I also seem to recall that no one believed me. I didn’t have any proof. I was called a liar. I didn’t make up stories, at least not then. I know you were real. I don’t know why I was outside without a parent. I honestly don’t know if this is real or if it was some other thing. I just don’t know, even now. I have no proof, only faith, faith hanging on by some invisible string that I wasn’t sure was there, since I no longer felt it or saw it. Faith. I only thought I wanted to believe. I only believed I had lost faith. Turns out I have not lost it, it has only been misplaced all these years.


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