I spent a lot of time in the ditch with Leana, and later in my adolescence, with others from the neighborhood. Leana and I were best friends, inseparable, sisters. We fought also but we were real friends. I called her almost every day or she called me; to either talk or hang out. But even as a child, aloneness recharged me. The dichotomy of introvert and extrovert has always fascinated me as I no longer believe in those terms. Movement, moods, waves come over people and they must go with them so they aren’t dragged under. When I need people, I need people. When I need rest and quiet, I need that. Even as a child, entertaining grew exhausting. I was the “funny” one and the adventurer. My legacy was that I’d perform any dare, including truth. In games, sometimes truth is the hardest. I was always game. They used to dare me to dress up, go ask for non existent car parts at the nearby Advanced Auto parts.
“I’m deadpan,” I lower my face.
I was always chosen to prank stores because I never laughed, could make up things on the spot and had the properness of a real charm school girl.
“Thank you for your time,” I would say leaving the store, Leana in tears, the clerks baffled by, not the Halloween costumes in April, but the boldness of the child’s flirtation with the staff.
I would be the one to knock on the new boy’s door to introduce him to the block, the one to steal the Christmas decorations off of the old woman’s door step, the one to confess my undying love for the new boy first, the one to race him, the one to hit him, the one to run across the highway before the cars. I was the one who told the jokes and picked up bugs. I was voted “funniest girl” in my sixth grade class. Gregarious, I talked to everyone. Clamorous, I was the one to get the entire class in trouble often.
“We are waiting for you, Ava,” Mrs. Heinz said to the entire fifth grade class as I made faces at my friend Parres, unaware that The Oregon Trail game had started again.
It was always like that. I was mildly disruptive but entertaining enough to go undetected.
“I wouldn’t really call you stealth. You just yelled across the entire school bus that you were in love with Jon and were going to marry him”
I flipped my hair.
“I was being rooooommaaaaantic, Leana. Of course, I’m not going to marry him. I am gonna marry Dennis Rogers. Where’d you learn the word stealth?”
I looked up the word stealth that day:
- cautious and surreptitious action or movement.
I looked up surreptitious:
- kept secret, especially because it would not be approved of.
“Sir ep tish is.”
I closed the dictionary.
“Umm, I am like so sir ep tisshh isss.”
Suddenly, I turned to see a young girl in the ditch with me. It was Friday,
I had just announced my love for Jon on the school bus and looked up the definition of stealth to later impress Leana with a bigger word: surreptitious and was practicing privately in the ditch near her house. I wasn’t sure what she was asking about; the leaf in my hand that I was twirling to remain calm, the grass in the other that I had plucked for no reason or my exxaggerated use of the word surreptitious that I was practicing to impress everyone on Monday.