i want to say i was 13ish. i know i was old enough that when my mother told me and my friend to go outside and play, we rolled our eyes and sniggered because playing at 13ish was a very different concept from playing at 5ish.
i know it was spring or summer, and i know it was in georgia. it’s when we lived in a house in what used to be base housing, and there was a large drop-off thingie where our back yard went downhill to the flint river. it’s probably not as large a drop-off thingie as i remember, but back then it was like we were on a very high hill.
we liked to lay down and roll down the hill, and we’d lie there giggling and queasy. the day i’m thinking of we were wearing shorts, and we got dirty. filthy dirty. amazingly dirty. so we went into my house into the bathroom to clean up.
mom had some pristine white washcloths, which probably means they were new because nothing remained pristine around our house for long. and i got an absolutely brilliant idea. we put the stopper in the sink and filled it up with water, and each of us took a washcloth and got it soaking wet, and then wrung it out. carefully we drew long stripes of clean on our dirt-browned legs. rinse out the cloth. then we drew flowers. rinse out the cloth. then we made interesting patterns. rinse out the cloth. start on the arms next. rinse out the cloth.
by this time the water in the sink was wretchedly filthy and we had to let it out, and there wasn’t enough dirt left on our arms and legs to make any more patterns. so we went ahead and finished washing up and went outside to play.
mom was really mad when she discovered her once pure white washclothes laying in heaps of greyish brown dirt that soaked in, ensuring that our hour of entertainment remained etched into the cloths.
i can’t say that i blame her.