You never know when you’re going to meet a superhero. I certainly didn’t expect to meet one at an interstate rest stop during a recent road trip. Yet there she was, getting a sip of water from the fountain outside the rest rooms.
The cape is what caught my attention but the way the wearer held herself is what kept it. I saw poise and I saw power. She looked to be about 9 or 10. I’m assuming gender based solely on the hair cascading from the back of the adult-sized snap-bill cap. I’ll continue using a female pronoun in this narrative but boy or girl, the outcome of story is the same.
I surreptitiously took a picture while she had her back to me, to preserve her anonymity. But when I looked later I saw that I’d caught her as she turned her head toward me, as if she knew what I was doing.
I made eye contact and told this young woman I thought her cape was cool. She smiled. Not a shy “oh, no, a grownup noticed me, I’m not worthy” smile but a smile that said she knew she had power and was pleasantly surprised that it had been recognized.
I held out a heart to her. She was reluctant to take it. Frankly, I was reluctant to give it mainly because it meant elevating our exchange from casually verbal to tangentially physical. I was very aware that a parent might be nearby, rightfully vigilant about the behavior of other adults toward their young child in a bustling rest area on a major highway. But I addressed her as the equal empowered being that she was. “Go ahead. That’s for wearing a cool cape.” She took it and smiled that power smile again.
I would have loved to ask her name and talk with her a little bit but as mentioned it wasn’t the time or place. I gave her a parting nod to honor her then found my traveling companion and headed on down the road with him.
The warmth and hope of that power smile stayed with me for hundreds of miles
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