I am seven, smack in the middle of my brothers and all the boys on our street. My brother Rob and Bruce come with me when I go door to door to ask the women of the neighborhood if they have any clothes in their closets that they can part with. We need clothes to play dress up. They smile and say, let me take a look, returning a short while later with a flowered dress, darts in the bust, draped over their arm, or with a navy hat with a veil to pull over your eyes.
We are playing Army, crawling on our bellies across the yard, over pale pink petals of the crabapple. Rob is wearing an army helmet. It is smooth and round. He looks like a real soldier, with the dirt streaks across his cheeks. Out of the corner of my eye is my mother, knees in the dirt of her garden; snapdragons, roses. She is wearing pale yellow garden gloves, her head bent as she pats the soil.
Near the garden gate, in the driveway, my father is hosing down his brand new car; a deep blue convertible Volkswagen bug. After he has rinsed it clean, he’ll roll the black roof down and let us sit on the top of the backseat. I sit tall and wave, stiff-handed, like the Queen of England, or Miss America, while he drives slowly through our neighborhood, tall spotted sycamores standing like the crowd at a parade.