> CD #75: Ceremony
I have written previously about how I love a good ceremony, but that was before the prospect of attending my firstborn’s Grade 6 farewell celebration. Help! My baby is disappearing! How do parents do this, just let these little creatures blast into our lives, ransacking everything, including our hearts, only to have them suddenly grow into real people with opinions and a trajectory that moves them further and further away from us with each passing day? And somehow we’re supposed to celebrate?
When I was a kid, we didn’t have ceremonies for Grade 6. My first graduation ceremony was in Grade 9, in 1990. It felt momentous, not only because I was moving on from the awkward agonies of junior high life—the absolute worst—but I had also finally gotten my braces off. The future seemed bright.
My school hosted a formal dinner at the Calgary Winter Club, and I went with my friends Jane and Karianne, and their families. My parents, exceedingly unsentimental, did not go, but my mom did buy me a dress to commemorate the event.
It was the least youthful, most confusing dress in the world—an atrocity of white lace and netting and 80s styling completely unbefitting a 14-year-old girl. It was about three sizes too big and vaguely itchy. My mom lent me a white pocketbook and open-toed pumps to go with the dress, and I wore the outfit with gratitude. She didn’t have money for fancy dresses. It was a sacrifice.
A few years into our marriage, my husband and I were eating dinner at my parents’ place when my mom revealed that she still had the dress packed away in her closet. We pulled it out and I tried it on. It was still huge on me, and my husband laughed so hard he nearly fell out of is chair.
Last week, I visited my parents and asked about the dress, thinking I might draw it for this newsletter, but it turns out my mom gave it away a few years ago. I shouldn’t have been surprised. My parents don’t share my attachment to things. But I had assumed the dress meant something to her, even though neither of us had ever talked about it. Apparently not.
This drawing will have to do, then.
Like so much of my work as a memoirist, it’s frustratingly inadequate in representing how things really were. But still the drawing celebrates something—a specific moment in time, a kid eager to grow up, and a mom who wanted her daughter to look nice. The faint echo of a faded memory, which is sometimes all we have.
ps. I will be taking the summer off, so this will be the last Closet Dispatch you’ll see for a few months. Go outside. Get some rest! Let’s meet back here in September, ok?
What is happening even?? Closet Dispatch is a free, limited-run, weekly newsletter by Teresa Wong.