As is typical with teenagers, the two girls chattered non-stop as they approached on the sidewalk. Then, without missing a single syllable, they stopped abruptly at the light pole about 50 yards ahead of me. The girl on the left untied a purple ribbon on the post and retied it. Adjusting the finished bow while upholding her end of the animated conversation, she nodded with approval as the two of them walked toward me again.
Coming to the next light pole, they stopped once more. The same girl untied the purple ribbon there, retied it, and again adjusted the bow. All the while, she and her girlfriend kept talking to each another, oblivious to those around them.
Continuing their stroll, the girls approached the tree just to the left of the bench where I sat. Once more the same girl began untying the purple ribbon around the tree trunk. Suddenly, her friend stopped talking in the middle of a sentence. She stared at her companion as if seeing something odd for the first time, and asked, "What are these purple ribbons for, anyhow?"
I, too, had wondered the same thing. I hadn’t really noticed them prior to seeing this young woman prettying them up. At first I thought it might have something to do with the local football team. After all, our school colors are purple and gold. However, there were only purple bows without a single gold ribbon anywhere. Besides, homecoming was the previous week. School spirit was not such a high priority today.
As she finished retying the purple bow around the tree, the girl replied, "I don't know, but they all look so sad. I just want them to feel better about themselves." Then the two women walked on toward the convenience store beyond me.
As I sat there considering what had taken place, I suddenly remembered that this was Domestic Violence Awareness month and the purple ribbons were to raise awareness. The irony of this innocent teenager wanting the purple bows to feel better about themselves overwhelmed me. Somehow, at a very deep level, she understood.