Two little girls were playing in a corner that backed up to a cement parking garage. Camped out on a patch more dirt than grass. It was the South End of Hartford in the 1970's. Poverty was the rule- not the exception. They lived on a small, dead end street with an empty building lot at the very end, "the woods".
Teenagers frequently disappeared into the woods. They weren't actually hiding from anyone; it was a pretty scraggly wooded area. These were not woods 'lovely, dark, and deep'. Once the girls found a discarded Playboy, soaked and wrinkled with the pages stuck together. They'd also seen the brown paper bag evidence the glue sniffers left behind. The girls weren't afraid of the woods, they just avoided the woods. Like a city park after dark- to be avoided.
The girls were busy. Heads down. Busy as only six year olds can be. And out of the garage appeared a couple of older teenage boys. Scraggly, like the woods- where they almost certainly emerged from. The garage offered a short cut to Franklin Avenue. They stopped and looked at the two of them. The girls looked back. Conversation stopped. And then one of them said, "You will be something special one day." And they were gone.
Not too many years after that, one little girl moved away. The other stayed close by. Still tied together by invisible strings as all friends are. Flitting in and one of one another's lives. Funerals, wedding announcements, baby pictures. Family tragedies. Catching up-decades in an hour. Losing touch. Catching up again.
The woods and the teenagers are long gone now. Two multi-family homes are built there. But those two girls? I'm sitting in Switzerland writing this blog. The other? She just welcomed her only child home from her first year of college. She worked two and three jobs to raise her on her own not far from that cement parking garage.
Some people have religion. Or maybe it's karma you believe in. Or fortune tellers. Whatever. But for years, I believed in that scraggly teenager. I also believed in Dracula but that's a story for another day. Some people have 'go to dinners' or the 'never fail outfit' or lucky socks. He was my 'go to pep talk'. Something to chew on in the middle of the night.
I think the words worked their magic a little bit a time over the next four decades for those two little girls. Special wasn't glitter and star dust. Special was finishing high school and going to college. Paying off student loans and working two jobs. Special was finding careers we loved that fit us. Special was raising our own families and whispering into little ears, "You'll be something special someday."