Thursday, May 24, 2012

Back Then: Pumpkin Queens

Its funny how the unexpected things change your life.  People don’t usually wake up in the morning and think to themselves “today, when I walk out my front door, a pumpkin is going to alter the course of my life”. Maybe an apple or a piece of chicken occasionally are considered, but gourds don’t usually make the life-changing list.

Notice that I said usually.

When I was in second grade, and had just completed a harrowing journey moving from Texas to Montana (we do things in extremes in the artist family), I was having the not-very-pleasurable experience of being a newcomer in an elementary school full of kids who were far more athletic and well adapted to the cold than I was. Shockingly, an incredibly skinny glasses wearing wisp of a girl with large bangs and an even larger imagination was having a touch of difficulty relating to the very normal and stout children that attended her new school. Where they taught skiing as a several day course when you entered the 4th grade. I was SO very much out of my depth (remind me later to tell you about when I was literally out of my depth in swimming lessons the following year)

Every October, a local pumpkin farm would come and dump an obscene amount of pumpkins on our playground. This was one of the best days of the year- because we were released class by class to choose a pumpkin of our very own. I stumbled through the rows looking for a pumpkin with two qualities: 1). Was light enough that I could use my noodle arms to tote it home from the bus stop and 2). Would make an excellent friend. I located one that I thought would do the trick, and proceeded to wait for the perpetually late bus (literally. We had 2 rounds of buses- the early buses and the late buses. Apparently we were in the midst of a hiring freeze on transportation specialists).

My new pumpkin friend and I were bonding, as I explained that she didn’t need to be afraid because I wasn’t going to cut her up, I was going to use markers to give her a pretty face, when I realized we weren’t alone. Playing with a pumpkin is NOT a good way to make friends in elementary school, so I set about mentally preparing myself for whatever vicious and highly mature comments (I know you are, but what am I was REALLY in full swing back then) would soon be directed at me. Instead, the girl introduced herself. And her pumpkin. And we decided to show our pumpkins around the playground together. Because that is COMPLETELY normal behavior for a pair second graders. We actually ended up mostly hiding under the tunnel slide, because October in Montana is fairly cold, and I was am incredibly wimpy.

17 years later, and the pumpkin girl has been witness to every important piece of my life, which is something that a rare few can claim (much to the pleasure of everyone who knows me now, I’m sure). Even though she lives entirely too far away, I still feel the same sense of security as the day that I realized that there was someone else out there, who wanted to be friends with their pumpkin. This summer, I will have the privilege of standing in her wedding, which is a far cry from our days as the pumpkin queens.

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