I’m From Benicia, CA.

by Jamila Khan

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

I remember Leslie.

Leslie was the kickball and soccer star of Robert Semple Elementary, toughest kid on the playground, and I was her friend.

I wasn’t tough, I was nerdy. I wouldn’t play with the boys in their games of tormenting the girls because the girls were my friends, especially the strong ones.

I remember her birthday party. In her room Leslie had the complete Lego space train set along the wall up near the ceiling, and I was jealous. I remember when she started unwrapping presents, and someone had given her a Cabbage Patch doll. Leslie cried. She didn’t want a doll.

I moved away a couple years later, never kept in touch, but I remember. I remember seeing Leslie not want a doll so much that she cried. I look back now and remember a tomboy coming up against gender roles, and I’m glad.

I’m glad that when I finally decided to be a girl, I had a memory from my childhood of the type of girl I’d like to be, one who was my friend.

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