Sunday, July 18, 2004


This is the boyfriend, me and my oldest niece, Kayla, last October in my brother's (her dad's) bar in California. Kayla's 13 and starts her freshman year next month. I'm thinking about her because she's attending cheer camp at UC Davis right now. When she emailed me about cheer camp, I emailed back about my experiences attending cheer camp at Squaw Valley when I was 15. How my fellow cheerleaders and I felt like total dorks because all the other girls (and the few guys) had summer tans and how we showed up, representing the Land of the Giants, in our pasty redwood-shaded flesh. Well, all of us except for Cynthia, who's Native American and has beautiful brown skin. (She was our Homecoming Queen our senior year.) And how in spite of our absolute dorkiness (especially compared to the SoCal girls who were right out of "Bring It On") we won a spirit stick (or wand...or whatever the hell it was) and how thrilled we were by that achievement. Kayla has grown several inches since this picture was taken; she's 5'9" now. And lest you think cheerleading is her life, she's also an honors student and carried a 4.0 GPA this past year. She got an electric guitar for Christmas and is taking lessons. (She's also studied violin and piano.) She's one sharp cookie. I remember being 13 and feeling like a world-class doofus; she's incredibly poised and articulate. I'm still coming to grips with the fact that she's entering high school. I could swear it was just the other day she was in Pampers and running in her little walker as fast as her little legs would take her, round and round the rooms of my Victorian apartment in San Francisco. She eventually figured out that if she ran really fast and then raised her legs, she'd slide across the hardwood floors. I can still hear her gleeful giggles at the thrill of doing that. She continues to go fast--in the best ways. I hope she'll never lose the part of her that dares to let go and see how far she can go...and that the results will have her throwing back her head in gleeful abandon. I love her bunches.  Posted by Hello


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