kesha, part 1

kesha was so beautiful.

we were twelve years old and she was the prettiest thing i had ever seen. red hair, pale skin, cool blue eyes. even at twelve she was sexy, running around in some little denim miniskirt and tank top, bare feet. i just wanted to look at her, be around her. all the other kids felt the same way, all the kids wanted to be kesha's friend. somehow even though that was my first summer on the lake, she picked me.

she knew things i didn't know. she'd already gone to parties, already kissed boys. already been "finger fucked" she told me proudly and we giggled over that under our sleepover blankets on the floor, flashlight, her making a corresponding hand gesture sending us into fits of laughter again and again. her parents liked to lie on their dock (three down from ours, just a few minutes walk down the narrow rooted path that cut through the woods bordering the lake) naked in the full sun, which scandalized my parents to no end. she loved english muffins "drenched with butter" and i thought the way she said that was impossibly cool.

god, we had no selfawareness. no idea of our own innocence, youth, beauty, power. or rather, i didn't have any idea of those things, if they were ever even mine. looking back, i think kesha had an absolute awareness of them. the kind of look she could give you when she wanted something. she would challenge you, dare you, something about that look left no space for any answer other than the one she was after. you would have given her what she wanted too, trust me.

we did the normal stuff, we planned dance performances (madonna tapes on the boom box in her front yard) and made all the other kids learn our routines. rode our 4-wheeler around the woods, down rollercoaster backroads to the gravel pit. we worked on our tans and read teen magazines and devised plans to catch the perfect boyfriend. we were free and in love with the summer, in love with life. sometimes she'd sing folk songs to me. we never realized where all that was going. i didn't, anyway.

we used to swim in the lake at night, just the two of us. my family inside the house at the top of all those steps cutting through the hillside down to our little beach. in my mind there were hundreds of steps to run up but really it was probably only thirty or forty. but we'd swim in the dark and there's no dark like summer minnesota lake country dark. we'd take off our swimsuits and slop them up on the dock. then we'd dare each other to prove our nakedness, as if the discarded suits weren't evidence enough. we'd do little flips and somersaults in the water, flashing secret skin, laughing. it was the most innocent kind of thrilling you can imagine.

(continued later)