I tried, Grace,
Worst was losing all the parade swag: the rainbow necklace RW bought for her, the candy she gleaned, the sparkly rainbow tattoo, the shiny whistle noisemaker, the stretchy rainbow bracelet, the confetti-filled egg a nice lady gave her (she had baskets full; she was giving them to everyone). Mermaid Girl was sad for her, but didn't volunteer any of her own loot. (Jessie herself is preternaturally well-behaved and generous, and if the shoe were on the other foot she would definitely have given up some of her stuff to MG, her Best Friend. We tried guilt-tripping MG but couldn't bring ourselves to make her hand anything over. Maybe we should have.)
RW ran back to the festival and looked all over, but there was no sign of it among the thousands of milling and flirting and partying queers. So it was a mournful little group that dragged our rainbow-streamer-festooned wagon back to the car. I bought ice cream for the girls but it dripped. Jessie, the Good Child, was stoic and quiet. MG was whiny. We were all tired and sad.
But up until then, it was a wonderful day. The girls wore matching tie-dye dresses and sat in the wagon as RW pulled them (I offered to take over, but she insisted she liked it), waving at the crowds. A dozen people must have taken their picture, matching rainbow friends. (though the photo-op prize must have gone to the two men just behind us in the Rainbow Families Brigade, feeding their new 12-day-old baby in a sling and pushing 17-month-old twins in a double stroller.) Even the hardened old politicos and the 20-something party boys with their groovy hair and spandex smiled at our girls.
And it really felt like they were both our girls. I couldn't help thinking vague hopeful political thoughts about how it's the Jessies of the world, as well as the Mermaid Girls, who will be one reason things will maybe be different in 20 years. If you were in and out of your best friend's house for years, and her moms helped you brush your teeth at sleepovers and gave you juice boxes at outings and you all went to the beach together, if your classmates' dads sent in cookies at his birthday and chaperoned your field trips, how could you grow up to think they were weird and sick?
Though maybe people still will. Who knows. And of course if Jessie's parents believed all that crap, she'd never have a chance to come to our house. So there you go; it's self-selecting, as usual.
So the sun shone, and there was a bouncy thing for kids at the festival afterwards, and the kids splashed in the pool, and I saw my (straight) doctor and my old roommate and someone I used to work with, and we got to walk up Broadway to the park and get cheered just for being who we are. And as Jessie's mom kindly said about the bag, "it's only stuff." And even though our camera's on the fritz, they were taking polaroids for some reason at the AIDS vaccine booth, so we got two matching ones taken of the two girls together in their rainbow dresses.
I can't reproduce them here but will pull this one up from the Booland Archives:
Here is our own Rainbow Family one year ago. We looked about the same yesterday; just a little older, all of us.