Wind tossed my ponytail as I stood on the balcony, a jump rope dangling from my hands. No, wait. There was no jump rope and no balcony. That was my hair, in a long blonde braid, cascading from the tower in which I was locked. The aromas in the air were not the neighbor’s freshly mown yard or Mom’s meatloaf wafting from the kitchen; instead, they were the grassy meadows where the cattle and horses grazed, and the scent of game roasted by some peasant.
“Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” I wailed. Never mind that I had never read a single word of Shakespeare or that I didn’t understand the meaning of the word “wherefore.” I was Rapunzel, calling out for her knight in shining armor. I wore not shorts and a tee-shirt, but a long flowing dress and ribbons in my hair.
The trees in the woods behind our house – or rather, the forest in which I was unjustly imprisoned – whispered their sympathy for my plight. Birds chirped their own hopes for my rescue.
Suddenly, finally, with great flair, came my rescuer, on a majestic white horse! So what if an onlooker saw only my older sister on a hand-me-down bicycle? I knew what was true.
My prince came, dismounted his steed, and declared that he would release me from my entrapment. He took hold of the jump rope – or rather, my golden tresses – and used it to climb the tower as easily as an eleven-year-old girl might climb the stairs to a balcony. Together we cut my long beautiful hair from my head, tied it to the railing – that is, the bars trapping me in the tower – and used it to descend to the ground, where the prince had his own horse and a horse for me as well.
Off we rode together, looking for all the world like we were just circling a back yard, but knowing that really, we were riding our galloping equines at breakneck speeds toward sweet freedom from evil kings and wicked stepmothers and all the other bad things in the world.
A summertime game, played so often that it is seared into my memory. At the time, it was just something to do to fill the long, hot and sticky days of summer vacation. Now, it is a sweet memory of imagination, happiness, and sisterhood.