It was yellow – our Tweenies tent. The one Danielle and I would drag through her corridor and into her square back garden lined with four battered brown fences, the chipped wood splintering our skin. We rejected adult help, believing ourselves to be grown up enough. We weren’t yet, but we would be, long before we’d have the chance to realise. Our bare feet sank into the ever-damp English grass, pale limbs bending in directions they shouldn’t have as we attempted to clamber in. Our giggles kept the nylon fabric upright, never ripping despite the way we tumbled into it. And when we were inside, toys slipping through our five-year old hands, it no longer felt like a tent, but like a world. An effect mimicking Mary Poppins’ handbag, the yellow of the walls blended in with the glimpses of sunshine that managed to peer through the near-permanent British blanket of clouds, and we breathed in the opportunities, the games that could be played, the skits that could be acted, the dances that could be choreographed. The universe tickled the tips of our fingers.
It’s funny how a single memory can cling as tight as the princess dresses we plastered onto our skinny bodies. I always did think she looked better – the blonde waves of her hair stroking far down her back while my hazelnut pigtails spiralled by my cheeks. We sat inside that Tweenies tent for hours on summer days, when the wind was brisk enough to turn a foreigner’s lips blue. We were used to it though, shoulders naked through conversations long enough to earn our “chatterbox” nicknames. Maybe we acted older because we thought that would speed up the process; allow us to use fancy words without getting bitter smirks in return, let us mimic our mothers, sip their same coffee from real mugs rather than the plastic picnic set we relied on. Little did we know the aging process was already quick enough. Within a year or two, layers of dust were licking the Tweenies tent buried beneath mounting boxes in my garage, our childhood becoming a memory we’d smile about one day.
We grew up in the one place that was designed to keep us young. I miss our Tweenies tent.