Before Double Digits

Photo by Paloma Nicholas

I remember when Santa Monica spanned over three quarters of the earth,
When Pico Boulevard continued forever.
Afternoons were dedicated to making mental maps of neighborhood swings,
18th and Alta, 14th and Marguerite…
Local loquat trees were mine for the picking,
And the carousel on the pier reserved a horse just for me.
The town was all there was, and all my own.
And then it wasn’t.
The pier provides for tourists,
You can’t reserve a horse.
Picking produce is a petty crime,
And Pico ends (eventually).
The city is no longer my own.

Bring me back to when
Stars held wishes,
Watermelon seeds grew in bellies,
Tooth fairies tipped generously.
When my greatest fear was throwing up,
When Mom was always right.
Life was sweeter
Before double digits.

I remember when my Paul Frank undies rode up my skirt,
When bras were mere recommendations.
Hot summer days were spent in swimsuits, and the sun would kiss me
On my back,
On my thighs,
On my chest.
“Spaghetti straps” were my go-to,
And jeggings were a must.
My clothes were my choice, and all my own,
And then they weren’t.
Tight jeans justify a man’s touch,
Tank tops are a “distraction.”
Exposed skin is “asking for it,”
And short skirts are statements.
My clothes are no longer my own.

Bring me back to when
Ocean’s fog was dragon’s breath,
Sand dollars were mermaid currency,
Cumulus clouds concealed castles in the sky.
When my worst nightmare was Darth Maul,
When all problems could be solved with Tums.
Life was sweeter
Before double digits.

I remember when my eyes searched for constellations,
When my ears sought stories.
My tongue could cut through steak,
My lips could challenge a king,
My heart belonged to me.

And then it didn’t.
I shut my eyes when told,
I close my ears when directed.
Others hold my tongue,
My lips speak through a filter,
A select few share my heart.
My body is no longer my own.

Bring me back to when
Men were kind,
Curiosity was encouraged,
Home belonged to me.

Life was sweeter
Before double digits.

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