On growing up

I was twelve years old and feeling mighty fancy. As a Christmas gift, my cousin and I had been given tickets to see Phantom of the Opera at the Buell Theater in downtown Denver. My grandma had even completed the gift with little black opera glasses, the kind that old ladies used in movies. (I still have those binoculars somewhere in my nightstand.) The weeks dragged on between Christmas and the date of the performance.

My dress was beautiful – a perfect piece for 1997. The top was black velvet with a pink satin rose at the collar. The empire waist accentuated my (12 year old girlish) chest, and the flowy black satin from my ribs to the floor was dotted with bright pink and green flowers. I wore black velvet, strappy heels; no doubt a purchase on clearance from Payless Shoe Store. I was wearing a proper slip, bra and pantyhose. I dreamed of that outfit for weeks until the time finally came to actually put it on.

Leigh (my cousin) and I arrived at my grandma’s house to get ready before the play. We carefully got ready in that back bedroom, taking extra time to apply Dr. Pepper Lipsmacker. Purple NYC eyeshadow was all the rage, and my hair was pulled half-back in a metal barrette. I used a curling iron for probably the first time, which makes no sense because I have naturally curly hair.  I admired my figure in the full length mirror on the back of the door. I was so grown up. I walked out into the living room, and looked at my mom, grandma and grandpa.

“How do I look?”

“woooo-weeee!” Grandpa whistled.

I smiled, sticking out my chest just a little, and flipped my hair over my shoulder.

“You look better than Marilyn Monroe!” Grandpa cat-called.

I had no idea who that was. But she must have been someone beautiful by the way grandpa said it! The compliment still rings in my ears today.

I think my mom dropped us off at the theater. I had never seen anything like it. The women wore furs and jewels, fancy gowns and red lips. The men wore black tuxedos and admired all the women. There were hardly any kids there. This was an adult event. And here we were!

The fanciest event I’d ever been too was probably a cousin’s wedding, where they had champagne and dancing. But this trip to the theater was even better. We weren’t the kind of people who went to the theater, or even went downtown very often. Not because it was wrong or bad, but mostly because that just wasn’t our thing. My education in culture included impromptu magic shows from my 80 year old neighbor Jim, where he’d make his thumb disappear. Or trips to watch my extended cousins perform in a Native American pow-wow.

That opening score! You know how it goes, “Perhaps we may frighten away the ghost of so many years ago with a little illumination, gentlemen?” Queue organ fanfare!!

A favorite memory. The first time I felt oh so grown up, yet still such a little girl.

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I’ve thought about this magical evening recently as I’ve been raising my own little girl. (Okay, she’s 6 months old, but still.) How do I help her through this stage? This little girl meets grown woman stage? Read a lot of books? Glean a lot of advice from other moms? Yes. I still remember so many things from this time in my own life, and I desperately want to help Hattie through such a crucial crossroad.

And this same scripture keeps coming my mind, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

And the truth that gently instructs me day after day: live in Jesus. Be a follower of Him. Don’t worry about this time to come, or the uncertain times now. Take it a day at a time.

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She’ll be there soon enough, and I’m only making my hairs gray by worrying about it now.

 

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