In 1978, when I graduated from 8th grade, Annie Hall was the movie of the day and Diane Keaton‘s clothes were trendsetting. Or so my mother told me – I was too young to see the movie. In any event, my mother, a.k.a. the Radish, a woman with a degree in Apparel Merchandising from UCLA, bought my 8th grade graduation dress in this fashion vein at the I. Magnin store in San Francisco on Union Square. No daughter of hers was graduating from 8th grade in a hideous frock such as a Gunne Sax, the brand of the moment. Oh, no.
I hated middle school. We moved to the boonies, albeit the same town, after 6th grade and I started a new school. The photo of me taken before my 8th graduation shows me wearing braces, chlorinated chin length hair in a faux Farrah do, with a blue and red print dress down to my ankles, a poufy white blouse underneath. In my arms is a bouquet of wildflowers my mother picked from our yard and our neighbors. She thought buying a corsage, such as the other girls were wearing, ridiculous for an event. My mother and I made a pact a few years ago never to discuss again a certain item of clothing she insisted I wear so I will not air that particular story; in exchange, she is never to tell a certain embarrassing story about me as a teenager. Let your imaginations run wild. Middle Sister will tell you, in far more eloquent words, its impact on my life. 8th grade graduation was for me the end of a hellish era; I was the only girl in an Annie Hall dress carrying a bouquet of wildflowers. I think you have the picture.
I was telling all this to Mr. Understanding as we flopped on the hotel bed earlier this week, when it hit me. In January, I sent Angel and the Radish off to the Juniors department at Nordstrom for Angel’s 8th grade outfit while I speed shopped in another area of the store. Here it was, a moment in life to rectify an earlier fashion misstep and I was so busy ticking things off my list I totally missed it! Not only that, I sent my precious daughter shopping for shoes and a dress with the author of my 8th grade graduation misery. At the time, I’d been relieved to pawn off the infinitely picky Angel onto my mother. In the midst of the moving stress, Mr. Understanding and I had a really good laugh over that one.
On Monday, the 18th, I picked Angel up from school and she had her hair done, red tresses flowing down her back with the sides pulled away from her face, a little lift in the crown. Manicured and pedicured, she donned her slip, classy blue dress, and sandals, the only shoes available to a size 12 4AAAA girl. The evening was warm and the ceremony outside. No one carried flowers. Angel was a vision of elegance and grace as she glided down the aisle and gave her valedictorian speech, her nearly six foot frame grazing over everyone else. Her dress was more than appropriate for the occasion.
Many years ago in Mexico City, a man wisely told me he thought his thirteen year old daughter was more beautiful because of her Marfan Syndrome, not inspite of. Click. That message resonated with me Monday night. This ugly duckling gave birth to a swan. I can’t wait to show my mother the photos of Angel and tell her this afternoon what a fantastic job she did choosing an outfit. It’s the perfect activity for a misty Pacific Northwest afternoon. Unfortunately, though, the movers packed all the camera cables for China …. She’ll just have to read the blog.