I didn’t know that I was stepping into a role.
I stood in my aunt’s bathroom, smiling at myself.
My lips were covered in cocoa glass.
My eyelids shimmered with desert clay.
My lashes plumped from threads to ropes.
I was 13 and in preteen girl heaven.
My aunt, a make-up fiend, had bins full of cosmetics…
…that I helped myself to…
Since my aunt left early for work, my morning duty was to get her daughter, 4-year-old Cheyenne, ready for preschool.
I’d help her brush her teeth, pick out her overalls and put a few ponytails in her hair.
But once Cheyenne was ready, I’d turn on the television and sneak into the bathroom.
I thought I was slick.
Surely Blue’s Clues was more than enough to keep a little girl occupied and still.
But as I watched myself in the mirror, Cheyenne was peeking…and watching me.
As she grew older, she went from watching me to asking me.
“Can I wear your shirt?”
“Can I go with you there?”
“When are you coming back?”
And now at age 19, from asking me to seeking from me.
“What do you think about that? I know you’ve done that.”
“That really encourages me because you went there.”
“I don’t know what God wants. What should I do?”
I didn’t know that I was stepping into a position.
Rose was always the cute little girl on the pew, 3rd from the back.
A couple of years younger than me, Rose’s sparkling chatter during the sermon was always a happy distraction.
Now at 22, her vivaciousness was still there.
One Sunday afternoon, as we lingered in the church parking lot, Rose looked to the left.
A woman had just passed by, walking cuddle close with a man.
When Rose turned back to me, her expression was sad and familiar.
“Has a guy ever told you that you were different?”
The question came from a spot I knew well, my hometown and my present address.
Our conversation became an ocean, deepening with each sentence.
Every sore she exposed, I found myself trying to soothe.
The hour grew late so I left her with a few final words.
She sent me an email days later, marveling about our conversation and saying that she had always looked up to me.
Look up to me?
I didn’t know that I had an audience.
I didn’t know that I was locked in a pose.
I didn’t know that my role as me, in good weather or in bad light, would be used as an example or cited as a source.
I’ll strive to play my role the best way I can.