Tuesday, September 16, 2014

First Homecoming

      “I have a dress you can borrow,” Marge exclaimed.  “In fact I have two, they were my sister’s - you can wear one and I’ll wear the other!”  My smile filled my innocent face as I beamed back at her.  Homecoming attire.  Problem solved.
       1964. After being imprisoned in Catholic grade school with white Ship and Shore blouses and turquoise jumpers, I was a sinking rock in a fashion sea of Olympic swimmers as I entered my freshman year at the public high school.  Dressing for my first homecoming, I felt so mature and feminine with the help of my seasoned friend.  Marge and I had gone to Catholic school together, but she knew the ropes of trendy fads since she had an older sister who attended the public high school.
        I was so grateful I didn't have to venture out into the jungles of retail shops to pick out my dress.  A virtual shopping virgin, I sent up a prayer of thanks for her assistance as I donned the borrowed, yellow-laced, spaghetti-strapped bodice with the wide hooped crinoline skirt.  I must surely be the Belle of the Ball, like something out of Gone with the Wind. 
        Feeling like I was trying to control a dozen helium balloons, I packed myself into Tony's parent's Buick, barely able to see out the windshield.  I kept my hand on top of my skirt as we drove, my wrist corsage a purple orchid in a sea of sunshine.
        We finally arrived at the school and after several failed attempts, I exited the car, feet first, Tony pulling at my arms.  As we entered the transformed gym hung with school colored streamers, I stiffened in horror as I squeezed through the door, my date trailing far behind my blimp sized attire.  Wondering why she'd avoided me all week, I tried to find Marge.  I couldn't wait to compare dresses, hers pink and mine yellow.  Then I saw her in the distance wearing a brand new lavender satin gown that clung to her slender physique – the season’s straight-skirted style adorning all the girls in the room – except for me.  The crowd parted as I formed an eight foot wide swath wherever I went, wishing I could sink into the lacy frills and disappear.  Fifteen, fragile and red-faced…
Living through the rest of the 1960s and the next 40 years have tempered my self-consciousness.  I no longer care what anyone thinks of my attire and I never ask anyone’s advice about what to wear.  If a formal event should find its way into my future, I may just attend with tattoos, bright pink hair, and a see through lacy dress – or maybe I’ll look in the attic for a yellow-laced, spaghetti-strapped, wide-hooped dress…

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dementia Speak

I speak dementia.  

"Hi Diane!  Why don't you come down for dinner?"
"Oh, that would be so nice.  Let me open the walrus and see what I have."

Locked unit.  Twenty-three captives.  

"Do you know me?"  Elaine asks.
"Of course I do, Elaine!"
"How do you know me?"

Sometimes they know where they are or sometimes...
"Where am I?  Where's my wife?"

They call for loved ones.
"Mommmmmmy?"  Mournful, small cries.

Mostly, it's...
"Why am I here?"
"How can I get out of here?"
They scratch at the glass in the doors.  
 Punch the exit key pad in vain.

Sometimes they pick their way through word salad to cry,
"I hate it here and I want to go home!"

They can be mean.
"I'm going to punch you.  I'll call the sheriff!"

Sometimes they plot.
"Here, I'll push you in your chair and you can try to kick the door open."

I smile.

"I love you," they say.

I hug them and say, "I love you too."
I go home and cry.