I’m choosing an alternate prompt today–to talk about my most unconventional love affair. I’m fairly sure I’ve written about this prompt before, but this time I’m talking about another unconventional love affair–my love affair with Mexico. Hopefully you’ll know why after you read it.
The Boy in the Blue Feathered Mask
I was so busy issuing art supplies, that when the masks were set out to dry, I had no idea whose was whose. Other Camp Estrella counselors were helping at each table and requests for paint colors were coming fast and furious. Who knew so many boys would want to be grey foxes? A lot of white and black got mixed. A lot of red and pink to make a deeper rose.
Then, feathers flew and concrete became polka-dotted with sequins in every shape from polka dots to half moons and leaping reindeer. Day after day, layers added until it was impossible to tell roosters from foxes from bears from falcons from rabbits.
But when I saw the remarkable turquoise feathered mask with the jeweled beak, I tried to imagine which of the graceful young girls had conceived of it. When I collected it from the tarp set in the sun and sat it under cover with the others for the night, I knew I wanted to be sure to capture her picture tomorrow before my day became consumed with other tasks.
The next day, the members of the camp surrounded the tables and piano where we had set the masks away from the night rain and winds of the rainy season. Some asked for more sequins, feathers, beads, paint, glue, glitter gel. Others wanted their headbands attached and wore the masks, as is, all day long–swooping between the fruit trees of the open courtyard and over the open spaces where the dance routines were practiced. They sat during language lessons and singing practice with beaks and ears and wattles and plumes.
And then I saw the boy in the turquoise feathered mask!
He didn’t seem to mind that his friends behind him were getting a large charge out of his mask.
He wore it almost constantly, once I’d fastened the strap to it. And then one morning, he caught me by the arm and asked me to take his picture. With his other hand, he caught the hand of a girl who walked by. She was one of the taller girls, rather shy, as you can see from this photo snapped the first day of camp:
Brave young man. Looks pleased. Brave young woman. Looks placid and mature. In the flamenco dance lessons, she alone looks almost as poised as her instructor. She is the niece of my housekeeper, and although I’d never met her, her aunt pressed me to see that she was included and it was a special request of mine that she be added to the camp roster. Now, in the 4th day of camp, I am so glad I did.
There’s a reason why feather boy looks so pleased. She is talented in everything she does, graceful and kind, and I’m told by the other counselors that the other girls look up to her. Although innocent, and in spite of a few flirty looks from girls toward boys, this is the only case of pairing up (short as it was) between the 11 through 14-year-olds in the camp.
When I mentioned the picture later on, he seemed puzzled, and then when I reminded him, he beamed again. In the two days since then, I’ve seen other boys watching her closely in the dance or at her table as she carefully pens thank you cards to camp sponsors. But no one else got his picture taken with her, and I noticed her shyness melt away rather quickly afterwards.
So many pleasures in this camp. Watching child after child mature and blossom was the greatest one. More stories if you want to hear them. Telling them assures me they won’t be forgotten.
Coincidentally, a friend brought it to my attention that this post also meets Cee’s prompt this week, so if you want to see some more teal or turquoise, go here: