The Red Wings were Stanley Cup Champions. Everyone said “my precious” at least once. The world lost Lisa (Left Eye) Lopez, and the world also discovered that Winona Rider occasionally had sticky fingers. Yes, 2002 was a heck of a year.
It was also the year I took myself to the prom.
I wanted to go with the current crush I had. And I even worked up the courage (much needed) to ask him. He already had a date, but he turned me down nicely and thanked me for asking him. Thanks to that, I could still show up at work and not feel like a complete ninny. I thought I masked my huge crush on him quite well. Turns out, I didn’t.
Most of my friends were going and they all had dates. I didn’t.
The truth is, I didn’t get asked out much as a kid. I didn’t know why but it took awhile to figure out it wasn’t me. I wasn’t the problem; it was a fairly normal experience for many teenage girls that are mentally older than they are numerically. And this would continue into the first couple years of college. One day, out of what seemed like nowhere, teenage me turned into an fairly extroverted adult.
I decided I was going anyway.
The prom was the day after my seventeenth birthday. I was going to go and I was going to be fabulous.
I called and made a hair appointment. My favorite stylist, who was also the mom of a classmate of mine, was free!
“It’s all about the dress” my mom proclaimed.
If I was going to take myself, I’d be dressed well!
“I want a poufy, frilly, pretty pink dress” I said. I envisioned a Cinderella style ball gown.
We went everywhere on the dress quest. I had a favorite dress destination. The Fashion Bug in Lapeer. It was about thirty minutes from home and I found it magnificent. Fashion Bug had everything I wanted. Including a charge card that, thankfully, I was too young to have.
We went, and it was a bust. They had lots of dresses, but not my dress.
We looked everywhere. Nothing. My dress quest was coming up short.
But finally, about a week before the dance, we went to JC Penny.
And I found it.
My perfect dress wasn’t pink. It’s not a Cinderella style.
Instead, it’s jewel blue. It has a classic skirt, and it ties corset style in the back. And because I am a bit of a hoarder, I still have it.
I put it on and spun around. I felt like I was floating. The dress was modest enough for a seventeen year old but it had just the right amount of sass that I felt magnetic. The color of the dress is what I now refer to as my color.
“I’m very proud of you” my mom said as I got ready to leave.
“Have a good time kiddo” my dad chimed.
I got in my black S-10 truck, turned the radio on, and away I went..
As I parked, I looked around to see if any of my friends were walking in also.
It looked like I was going in alone too.
I got a little nervous. “Who walks into the prom alone?” I thought. “It’s all about the dress” I heard in the back of my mind. “Knock ’em dead” I told myself.
I got closer and closer to the door. And when it opened, I saw some friends.
They told me how nice I looked and us girls appraised and applauded each other’s dresses.
And then, we walked in as a group.
I might have driven to the dance alone, but I definitely didn’t attend it alone.
Now, fourteen years later, I am once again on the hunt for a perfect dress.
I am participating in my first spoken word story event. Listen to Your Mother is May 1, and it is being held at a concert venue where some legendary artists have performed. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be on the same stage that Bob Dylan once held in his hand. Eminem. Nirvana. Red Hot Chili Peppers. And me.
St. Andrews Hall will never be the same.
I keep looking in the closet thinking “maybe I’ll wear that prom dress.”
I won’t. Even if it still fits, some things just look goofy after awhile. Remember, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
I will walk onto the stage, and just like the seventeen year old me, I’ll be by myself. But I am certain that I am far from being alone.
I’m taking a chance, and this time, it’s not all about the dress (although that is a huge element).
It’s about me. My words. My voice. My story. My opportunity (thanks Eminem, you got that stuck in my head now).
It’s my time to arrive.