I am 11. My dirty blond hair hangs limp in the humid Panamanian air but I don’t mind. We are racing barefoot to the banana trees with our collection of limes we have gathered in our tee shirts. My feet sink into the cool mud as we reach the riverbank and we climb to the tip-top of the trees where the leaves meet perfectly placed wooden platforms, excellent for summer lounging. The edge of the rainforest is bustling; it is business as usual today. Birds and other animals call out to one another repeatedly and geckos flit up the sides of our domain, curiously unsure of us. I methodically peel my juicy green treasure and bite into them, squealing at the bitter taste. I wipe my sticky hands off on my shorts and stretch out on a plank, my legs dangling over the edge carefully. We talk about the best flavor LipSmacker (Pink Lemonade) and which Spice Girl we most relate to (Baby Spice because blond hair, duh). Mud that has dried on my foot starts to crack revealing Blue Bombshell toenail polish. I arch my foot so it crumbles off. We wonder what it would be like to run away from home to make it on our own but I already know that this is impossible. Just last week I packed a bag and decided to give it a go, racing my bike as fast as I could to a secluded field that I was sure no one in the entire world had ever been to but me. It was my own amber land that seemed to stretch for miles. I laid out a blanket and had lunch while listening to my Walkman until my batteries went dead. Leaning on my elbows, I daisy chained flower bracelets and crowns, delicately draping them on myself, envisioning lace and tulle gracing my head. The sky was clear and the warm sun kissing my skin made me doze. Problems arose only mere hours after my arrival when I had to go to the bathroom. I carefully attemped to squat but pee dribbled all the way down my leg so I quickly packed my things and decided this running away thing was for the birds. Back at the banana trees, it begins to grow dark. A shrill, pulsating sound rings through the trees. It is the DDT trucks spraying for mosquitoes. That must mean it’s time to get home. The pungent smell reaches deep into our lungs causing us to cough and gasp for breath. The air is thick and foggy with pesticide as we make our way back home and the streets are quiet again, each home lit up along the way telling its own story. Tomorrow, we will do this all over again. This is what it feels like to not have a single care in the world. This is what it feels like to enjoy unadulterated fun. Sometimes I long for those lazy days, when being carefree was the norm and I lived for being outside. I know I can’t ever go back there because–responsibilties and all that– but it is nice to slow down for a mental break in the midst of the craziness that is adulthood and recall that piece of my history for a moment. Maybe I’ll even take a mud bath for good measure.
July 29, 2014
o/t: under the banana tree