This week’s column for the WIR.
This also aired on KAXE Northern Community Radio. You can listen to that HERE.
August 30th, 2012
Quietly Contrary: Dressed for Success
By Mary Eileen Finch
Weeks before elementary school even started I would begin to prepare. You know the drill. A new box of crayons that you swore to yourself would never break or get lost, a crisp shiny backpack with a zipper that didn’t stick, and pencils with my name engraved on the wood that my mother would special order from a magazine catalog every year. And, of course, a brand-new outfit that had been tried on over and over to make sure it was perfect. I was that adorable, eager little girl who danced through the halls bound and determined to soak up all that was offered.
Until one year my whole world came crashing down during recess. There I was, standing in the middle of a group of girls who seemed to be a lot more underdressed than me. Their cut-offs and t-shirts contrasted heavily next to my pink dress, black Mary Jane shoes and lace trimmed socks. I knew I looked good, the mirror had told me so that morning but I sure felt awful. And the knot in my stomach expanded with force when one of the students turned to me and apathetically said, “I just don’t understand why someone would get all dressed up the first day of school? Like, who cares?”
Apparently I hadn’t gotten the notice that we were too old to care anymore. Liking school was lame. Dressing up for school was just not cool. So I did what comes naturally to a child at such times. I blamed my mother. “Oh yeah, I know, right. My mom MADE me wear this today. Otherwise I would totally have just worn some shorts.” I announced this as I shoved my special pencils back down into my Lisa Frank book bag. They had been in my hands, all ready to show off, but somehow I didn’t think anyone would be impressed with them this year.
All these memories have been going through my mind because next week I will be going back to school again and to be honest, I’m a little nervous about it. In fact, just a few hours ago I was making a list of all the things I needed to get done before school starts and trying to figure out how to open my new laptop bag that has no less than 15 zippers and searching for my class schedule and panicking because I seemed to have lost my student ID and then I remembered that I didn’t even have any pencils, yet, so I burst into tears and said, “I want pencils with my name on them!”
I do have a new pack of crayons, though. Scented ones in fact. Yes, I know that a fully-grown woman is probably not going to need crayons at college but I don’t care. They are pretty, they smell good and they make me smile so into my bag they go. I might even wear a pink dress on my first day, too, though I doubt that you’ll see me dancing though the halls.