Prom Dresses are Over.

Prom Dresses are Over.

I had a little life realization last week. At a consignment store in town. I was dropping off some clothes, and decided to take a moment to browse. Everett was happily gnawing on a pacifier, all strapped onto me in the Ergo, like my bitty baby kangaroo, and I decided, "why not just flip through the spring clothes?" Because, well, when do I ever go to clothing stores these days? I'll answer that for you. NEVER.

So there I was, flipping through garments, touching all the gently used fabrics and imagining their previous life before they found their way here... then something caught my eye. Across the room. Something glinting in the sunlight that streamed through the dusty windowpane. Prom dresses. Kind of loud ones. I walked toward the section and just took a moment. Took it all in.

Oh, the ridiculously saturated colors, all primary shades of pinks, blues and purples. The sequins and glitter and taffeta and insane cut-outs (is it just me, or are prom dresses much skankier these days? It's probably just me. I've probably become a total prude. Alright alright. I was always a total prude.) But it hit me in that moment, staring at the gowns.

I'm a mom now. I don't go to the prom anymore. It doesn't occur to you the day you buy your last prom dress that it's the day you buy your last prom dress.

When I was in high school and college, there seemed to always be some formal event on the horizon, a reason to keep an eye on the prom dress section of the store. Homecoming, winter formal, prom, graduation, etc. And just a few years ago, I was the wife of a business school student, and again, there seemed to always be a reason to be dress shopping. Dinners, cocktail parties, formal celebrations - I often found myself trading dresses with friends, pulling out old prom and homecoming dresses, and shopping the outlets around prom season. It's been a lot of years of "prom dress shopping". And standing here, in the middle of this dusty consignment store, I was suddenly aware that those days were over. I wouldn't prom dress shop again unless it was going to be with my daughter. Gulp.

If I ever have a daughter.

Okay lets just be real. IF I EVER GIVE BIRTH AGAIN.

You see what I mean. It was kind of a moment.

Everett just kept gnawing on his pacifier. Chewing. He chewed on my face a bit too. He's seriously teething.

Some things in life are stark and weird and silly, all at once. It might seem insane to some of you that I found this particular moment impacting. But I did. Because my role in life has transitioned and I'm not just a teenage dreamer anymore. And I'm not just a single lady anymore. And I'm not even just a married chick who is fun and fancy free. I'm some combination of the old me, fused with being a wife and the newest element of being a mother, and it takes a minute to get the hang of it. It takes a minute to embrace the new while still clinging on to the best parts of the "old" me. But the very craziest part of this whole scenario is that I still feel like a teenager in my head and in my heart. I SWEAR I'M EIGHTEEN IN MY HEAD. Eighteen, excited about the future, sort of nervous about what is to come, armed with that heady rush of "anything is possible!" I am still that teenaged girl, shopping for my "dream prom dress"... aren't I?

The reality is no. I'm literally (and physically, geez) beyond that season. Not only am I past prom dress shopping, but I bought my wedding dress 8 years ago and it hasn't come out to play since it's inaugural wear. I am not eighteen. I'm not.

But I am not over.

I have entered the mom phase of my life. And this phase is here to stay. I will never un-become a mother. But that doesn't mean that I've lost my flavor, my lust for life, my relevancy and my right to party. Prom dresses might be over for me. But the eighteen year old that knew how to get down? I like to think she's still somewhere inside, two-stepping or foxtrotting or Irish dancing to the beat of her own drum. But perhaps in slightly more comfortable shoes.

Reflections: The 2012 vs. 2013 Boston Marathon

Today the city is sunny, sullen and tinged with an eerie quiet. The community of Cambridge wants to wrap our big brother Boston in a bear hug and not let go.

Yesterday morning I woke up with a head cold and grumpily turned on the televised race footage. We were eager to go downtown to celebrate this day with our friends, but I was physically feeling puny and we reluctantly decided to stay home. Stevie worked on papers and I watched the race for hours from the comfort of my couch. This cold was perhaps a blessing in disguise. I won't re-hash the details of the horrific bombings that have been covered in excess by the news. After several panicked phone calls to friends we knew were downtown at the Finish Line, Stevie and I began to pray for safety for the victims and for all plans of evil in our city to be thwarted. Thankfully, our friends who were running the marathon and watching from downtown were all safe, though many of them were in the vicinity of the blasts and watched the horror unfold.

Patriots' Day

For many of you who don't live in Boston, you might not understand the importance of Patriots' Day in this city. Before I moved to Boston I didn't understand why people got the day off of work and school.

Patriots' Day is a civic holiday celebrated in Massachusetts (and Maine) to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord. These battles mark the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, and therefore, celebrate freedom and independence.

In my extremely limited experience, it is a day that I can only compare to a robust 4th of July on steroids. Bostonians are fiercely proud of their heritage, and on this day, that pride is honored throughout the city with jubilation. It is an infectious tradition that makes you wish you were a permanent cog in this community. As a native Atlantan, I've never experienced a city-wide event so richly steeped in heritage and celebrated so widely. Everyone celebrates the marathon by showing up in droves to watch the runners. Strangers cheer for the athletes, high-five each other, children wave American flags. There is no distinction between race or creed, gender or age, even hometown heritage. On this day, no matter where you're from, you are a cheering Bostonian and you are happy.

We were amongst those who watched the race from Commonwealth Avenue last year, at the 2012 Marathon. I want to share a few photos and a video for you to understand the intended joy of this day, which was captured a year ago when we attended this event:

Boston Marathon 2012 from Kristen Hale on Vimeo.

Reflect

I share this with you so that you may have a deeply sensitive appreciation for what the community of Boston is enduring. It's okay to be angry, it's okay to be sad, but in times like these I hope the processing of these emotions will lead to greater compassion and empathy for others.

Keep in mind all the goodness shown by people in these moments of terror. Marathon runners tearing off their clothes in order to stop the bleeding of victims, marathon volunteers carrying victims into ambulances, emergency-response authorities cooperating with complete strangers in order to minimize the volume of panic and pain. Even more amazingly, a googledoc was passed around by Boston residents who opened their home up for strangers to stay. Many visitors to Boston (for this particular event) had been displaced by the hotels in the area that were shut down due to the blocked-off crime scene.

These acts of kindness should be at the forefront of our appreciation to God's goodness in people. Feel free to post your comments, thoughts and prayers.

Reflections: "I Feel Bad About My Neck"

// Via //

Nora Ephron was an accidental genius. I so wish I could have sat down to coffee with her. We would both wear cozy oversize sweaters and order lattes at a hip city café and we would laugh and laugh all afternoon. And it would be raining. And it would be perfect.

I just finished her book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck” while on a plane to D.C. I could hear her voice the entire time I read, ranting about face creams and parenting and her beloved New York City apartment. Her life was peppered with amusing stories and heartbreaking truths. And everyone she ever knew was a character in a story, including herself. She was a character in her own life, and after reading her quirky life diatribes, I see that little bits of her were in every character she ever wrote. She was Sally Albright in “When Harry Met Sally”. She was Sam Baldwin in “Sleepless in Seattle”. She was both Julie and Julia. She secretly (or not-so-secretly) inserted her funny, sad truths into everything she ever wrote. She was unapologetic. She was unrelenting. She was regretful. And she shared her legend with her world, which happens to be the world we all live in.

She died this past summer. I was living in a house in Southwest Atlanta with a gaggle of beauties when I heard the news: Nora Ephron has died. I was sad, mostly because I wish I were a part of her generation; most 25-year olds don’t know who Nora is. But her voice sort of transcended time, at least to me. I was given the book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck” by those lovely ladies that I lived with for the summer. (God bless them, they had me in their home so I could finish up my degree, since I no longer actually lived in the same state as my university, but that’s a mouthful-of-a-story for another time.) I love them, those sweet girls who were guardians of my summer. I’ll really have to tell you that story some time. But I lived in their home when I heard about Nora’s death and they mailed me the book for my birthday this past September, so there is something about them that connects me to Nora.

The book, just like my band of endearing friends, is just lovely.

The truth is, I’ve actually been a little concerned about my neck. Apparently it’s the first thing to “go” when you start aging, according to Nora. You’re supposed to use face cream on your neck. Women want to preserve their skin, so they lather on the face cream, and the neck always goes unnoticed. This is a grave female mistake, because your neck will give you away. I started using face cream last year, at age 24, because apparently I need to start turning back the clock. Which is funny, because in so many ways I feel like my life’s clock hasn’t really gotten going. How much time has passed? Yes, I’ve grown into a whimsical character in my own mind, and yes I’ve married a fabulous handsome man who encourages my dreams, but I don’t know that I’ve actually done much of merit yet. Is the bar set too high? I don’t say that to mean that everything I’ve done up to this point isn’t important. I’m continuing to become me, and everything I’ve done so far has shaped my odd little life. But as a child, you believe that you’re going to BE something. Preferably something big. It feels strange to use face cream at this stage, because I feel like so much of my life hasn’t really happened. And yet, I should already be trying to preserve my rapidly-decreasing youth. Is this odd to anyone else? In case you’re wondering, I’ve begun using a bevy of Origins products. I’m such a sucker. But I feel sort of justified, because at least Nora felt the same way.