Tuesday, June 27, 2006

can i get a jump

i walked through the park this morning on the way to work. apparently, the kids are out of school now. funny how there was once a time when i knew that i knew that school was out, 'cause i was one of the kids counting down the days. anyway, there were kids all over the park wearing these red camp t-shirts. now, please don't ask me to explain why being in the middle of an urban park that's surrounded by highrises and which contains pigeons, statues, and a fountain counts as "camp" experience. i mean, come on, they were right across the street from the chain bookstore/cafe. i used to wonder why, when i was in the might-as-well-have-been-called-big-kid-daycare summer program at the Y in the summers it was called "camp," when i didn't see hair nor hide of anything woodsier than a squirrel. look: kids with rich parents go to camp where they canoe, swim in lakes, make arts and crafts in the woods, walk nature trails, and make s'mores. kids with regular parents, especially urban regular parents, go on city trips in vans and swim in chlorine, make arts and crafts in the rec center, walk to and from the vans, and never learn how to make fire without cigarette lighters. but i digress.

as i was walking by, i noticed that some girls were jumping double dutch. in fact, i saw the rope before i saw the girls. white and vinyl, (since it's really a corner store clothesline fashioned into a toy) it opened and closed like a big pac.man mouth as a brown-skinned girl hopped straight up and down in its sphere.

i hungered.

and for a moment, i forgot that i'm supposed to be a grownup and that i'm on my way to work. i was about to walk right over, dump my commuter bookbag on the ground as if it were carrying my spelling and math books, and ask, "can i get a jump?" with pleading eyes. the etiquette and commerce of jumping not forgotten, i knew that i'd better be prepared to earn my turn by turning the ends for at least one or two of the girls in the game.

and that's when i remembered all kinds of stuff. first, i remember what it was like when grown women would ask to jump with us, like they were trying to recapture their childhood... at the time i thought it was cute that they loved the game so much that they'd be willing to chance embarrassing themselves at a skill they hadn't practiced in years. i remember feeling sorry for them that they'd lost touch with the game. and i suppose i probably conveniently ignored the inevitability of that same thing happening to me.

i also remembered that i was on my way to work and that i didn't want to be late or get there all musty and disheveled. and besides, i don't know if i could really get down in these damn loafers, not having jumped in at least a year now (i brought my rope to the family reunion last year).


and i'm still hungering. my double dutch crew is all grown now. we live miles apart. one of us is a mom. everybody's all boo'd up. between us we have three degrees and two in progress. now, i still have my rope (somewhere). i still remember the songs. but the last time i asked these heffas if they would jump with me, they didn't want to. all of us have gained weight since we were teenagers, and all of us are sedentary. plus, let's not forget that once a sista gets to be a certain age, she doesn't want to get her hair messed up, 'cause then she'll have to fix it all over again. excuses, excuses, excuses.

we were just talking about how our jobs and our men and our families and the things we've found upon leaving our neighborhood have made it so that we only see each other sometimes. it's pitiful. we talk in snatched conversations grabbed while getting the baby from the sitter, or trying to get the laundry started before dinner, or over text messages snuck from under the office desk. we used to bond from opposite sides of that white pac.man mouth, singing for each other's rhythm, sweating to outjump each other, arguing over whether the rope clapped, and fighting boys together over messing up our rope's cadence since they didn't know yet how to get our attention... i want that sisterhood back. when we were girls, we had competing concerns, but the rope always brought us together - we made time for that release - that experience like no other. i liken the pounding and tapping and joined voices and communal concentration to the footage of motherland ceremonies i've seen on tv. it's in our blood. it's in our backbones.

i'ma find that rope and bring us back together. maybe start a club for women 18 and over who want that feeling back. matter of fact, if you're in my area, holla at me.