Little Girl, Are You Lost?

Little girl are you lost?
What’s your name?

I sit crouched under a table
In an apartment in Cambridge
My mom sits leaning against the legs of the table
Comfortable in her turtleneck and sweatpants
That she still wears today
Little girl are you lost?
I laugh
Then try and make my face serious
I am better at this game then my sister
My name is Rana Penina Bickel
My address is:
My phone number is:
My parent’s names are:
We play this game
To keep me safe

And then one time
I get lost
We were at a museum
A children’s museum that was supposed to be interesting to children
It wasn’t
And there was an escalator
My dad was looking at the exhibit and talking about it
I saw the escalator
Escalators are so fun
So I took the escalator down down down
I landed in the lobby
And couldn’t see my dad
I don’t know what I did then
But a two year old standing alone does attract some attention
The guard brought me into his office
He gave me candy
He sat me on his lap
“Little girl are you lost?”
I knew exactly what I should say
But I kept silent

I sat on his lap
And ate a lollipop
And stared at him with big hazel eyes I had yet to grow into
I knew my phone number
My name
My address
But maybe
Just maybe
I didn’t think I was lost
I knew my dad was upstairs
I knew he would find me
I was having an adventure
I had stepped on that escalator on purpose
“Little girl are you lost?”
Because no
I was not lost

And then my dad found me
And took me home
And I remember walking outside
him holding my hand tightly
“Didn’t you remember our game?”
Of course I remembered
My dad made me practice
What’s your name?
What’s your address?
What’s your phone number?
Not understanding that I hadn’t been lost at all

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If that security guard
Were to ask me today
“Little girl are you lost?”
even though I have
a phone and a purse
and know my name
Zip code
ACT score
Academic institution
Drivers license number
Ten year life plan
I would be silent once again
Because this time
The unspoken answer
Would be yes

Yes I am lost
Sometimes I wish
I could be known first
As the girl who smiles all the time
Who loves hugs and sweatpants and harry potter
And oddities like crying, dancing in the rain, and dragons
And second
As the Frustrated Liberal Orthodox Jewish Feminist
Who is Going to Change the World
Who is Always Angry and has A Lot to say

I talk about this sometimes
at all those coffee dates
I try to understand and learn from people
Who seem to know where they are going
But me
I am still lost
Just increasingly more articulate about it

Little girl are you lost?
What’s your name?