Wednesday, March 10, 2010
When you look back on your childhood, it all seems so simple and uncomplicated. That is precisely how it was for me.
As a little girl, I attended a private school that did not officially embrace a uniform policy until the sixth grade. Until then, my brother and I were notorious for being the best dressed children there. I had a closet filled with frilly dresses, shorts, shirts, blouses, jeans with sparkles, fancy shoes. Mom put ribbons in my hair in pinks and lavenders and mint greens, some of my favorite colors back then.
I spent most evenings as a child and later as a teenager at the department store Dillards where my Dad worked part-time. It was like being Eloise at the Plaza for me. Everyone working there knew my brother and me and each evening, we raced through the men’s dress shirts, ties, suits, and underwear aisles to get to my Dad’s department, men’s shoes. We played in the stockroom there, careful not to knock the shoe boxes over. I loved to talk to his coworker David, with his winning British accent, and his boss Ann, the tallest, most blond beauty girl I have ever met (really, ever). Don, in the suits department, who was brilliantly handsome and made me smile just like my Dad, and dear, sweet Kathy who made sure I always had the prettiest shoes to wear that fit my actual size.
Then, with my Mom and Earl, I’d go to other floors of the store and try on hats in the women’s hats and gloves section. Sit underneath the gowns in the petites department and collect the sequins that fell off in paper drinking cups. Try on red patent heels and slowly totter down the fragrance aisle and back up again. Sit on a display bed and pretend that I could really sleep there for the night. By 9:30pm, we would all be in the car driving back home, my Dad, Mom, Earl, and I. We would stop for ice cream cones and arrive back a little after 10pm where I did all of my homework in a hurry before going to sleep.
Dillards was my second home. I could walk in that store and travel throughout the adjoining mall blindfolded and never once get lost. Walking around each evening with my clothes scented like Givenchy and giggling with my brother as we raced up the escalators together. Sometimes I sat down on the escalator step and saw that world, so up high, so brimming with life and the happy tunes of a piano playing in the background.
When I close my eyes, it’s like I’m seven again. The feelings are all the same, I’m still there, running, and trying everything on, and people are still smiling and being grand. There is no sadness, no fury, no loneliness or fear of the future. Just all of these kind souls embracing the day in a way I haven’t seen since.
A spell was cast to change everything. I began to get angry in the store and act rude in public. My Dad quit his job there. Dillards as a whole closed down due to lack of business as did the rest of that mall. The spell was broken when I turned 18 and I woke up. And I cried, because that place of wonder was no longer a part of my life.
15 years have gone by, but if I close my eyes tight enough, and just concentrate long enough, I see the bright lights reflecting upon my Mom’s auburn hair, the glass display bottles of perfume, the carefully arranged blue ties on the table, and a little girl with curled brown hair racing down to her Dad, laughing freely and fully the entire way.
Love to you all,