“What? We’re going out to dinner? What do you mean?” I asked, incredulously.
“Yes, you know what that means. We’re going to eat at the buffet down the street. Did you see it when we pulled into the motel? It had a giant chicken by the door,” my teenage sister kindly explained.
“What? We’re going to the chicken place? Really??” I squealed in delight.
“Yes, now hold still and let me brush your hair.”
I fumbled in my pocket for the purple and green polished agates. Each a little bigger than a quail’s egg, smooth and holding more promise for me than the real egg does for a mother bird. I held them in my hand, the purple one a little more elongated than the green, so I was usually able to guess which was which as I massaged them in one hand. Or passed them between hands, playing a version of the walnut guessing game with myself. We had been to a souvenir shop that afternoon and I was allowed to buy these treasures. I was awestruck and thankful.
“Oops,” I said, bending down.
“Hey, hold still,” my sister held on tight and gave me a whack on top of my head with the hair brush. It didn’t even phase me. Nothing could spoil this magical day.
“I dropped my purple rock,” I explained.
“Just wait,” she said, as she kept brushing my hair, tightening the grip on my chin.
I stretched my right wiry thin leg over toward the missing gem, stretching and reaching for it. All the while, trying to hold my head still enough to not alert my sister. Eureka! I found it. My bare toes grabbed hold of my jewel and grasped it. I bent my leg at the knee and reached down to gratefully receive it from the grip of my flexible phalanges.
I was six years old. It was my first family vacation. We went to the Grand Canyon. I remember the motel pool, the meal out, and the souvenir agates. I don’t remember the Grand Canyon.