This weekend I've been involved in the important preparation for my 14yr old niece's first day of high school. She went to her open house on Thursday to see her new school, Friday I took her to the beauty salon to get her hair done and yesterday I went to the mall with her and her dad to get polo shirts in various colors as part of the school dress code and shoes (which are apparently fair game as far as wardrobe goes). We even picked up some funky costume jewels to accessorize her uniform. All this hype about high school made me give some nostalgic commentary on my first day of high school which seemed to be nothing but high comedy to my niece.
Everyone who knows me knows I'm a fashionista and have high maintenance diva tendencies. My hair (real or weave) is always put together. I always have jewels on my neck, ears, fingers and wrist and like most women I LOVE shoes! But this wasn't always the case which is the testimony that took her into a fit of laughter.
We went into store after store looking for...gasp...SNEAKERS!!! Everywhere we went she was spouting off the number of an Air Jordan or Lebron or Griffey. If it wasn't gym shoes it was a hunt for something called a Sperry (which I couldn't tell the difference between the Sperry, or the Highland off brand, but I'm old so who cares). Seriously going to Foot Locker with her and her dad was like going to DSW for me and my sister. She can wear a kid's size sneaker so when we went to these stores she asked for her size they brought it out she tried it on, it fit and she had her pick of shoes everywhere we went. If they didn't have the color we tried another store. After what felt like the hundredth store she found this shoe she wanted in a color choice that we'd been hunting for. Now let me say my niece isn't spoiled but if the waters are stirred and she has her daddy at her beck and call hey why not ask the sales person if they have another shoe she'd been looking for...
And that's when I had some sort of flashback outburst that may need to be worked out in a therapy session. I look at her and ask "Haven't we tried on enough shoes today? I mean how many pairs of sneakers do you need? You could be going to the 9th grade wearing patent leather tie ups or orthopedic shoes!!!" And she laughed like I was joking, but I was apparently venting 22yrs later and was so serious.
I know for a fact I looked a fool mess on my first day of high school, but you couldn't tell me back then. Actually a uniform would've been less shameless. My clothes were homemade but weren't too bad (my grandma could see then and was a great seamstress). I was rockin' the polka dots like Kwame in the 90's but my head and feet were a shameful mess. I had a jheri curl/fro/mullet going on, huge red eyeglasses a la Sally Jesse Raphael and thanks to the trendy one hit wonder Oaktown 357 I was able to wear ESPRIT patent leather tie-ups with satin ribbon laces. "YEAH,YEAH, YEAH! YEAH, YEAH, aww YEAH!" I wore those shoes until there were holes in the soles. They were the first pair of shoes I ever owned that I didn't have to wear with some sort of special insert for my extremely flat and awkward feet. Even in middle school gym class when every one else wore cute white Keds I had an off brand Reebok style high top with velcro around the ankle. Not because it was stylish, but because every other shoe slipped off my narrow heel. My other pairs of shoes were indeed slip on leather orthopedic cafeteria worker type shoes to help my weak arch. Fortunately my personality and big red glasses kept people's focus away from my shoes and I even got compliments on my custom made red and white polka dot pallazo pants.
I finally came into a better sense of style somewhere around winter and by the spring I had been set free from the jheri curl and realized shoes with a heel seemed to fit a little better. My mom bought me my first pair of pink pumps for Easter and there was no turning back.(Now y'all understand my love for a good heel is really a theraputic breakthrough!) I haven't bought a pair of orthopedic shoes since. Well at least not a pair that is recognizable as orthopedic. Easy Spirit as come a long way and I thank God!
Anywhoooo ...I was glad I was confident enough to know I was a nice person and my appearance didn't make or break me in high school. Most girls go through that awkward stage, whether it's braces, head gear, special shoes, bad perms, flat chest or acne, but true beauty shines from the inside out and will blossom into something very special if you stay true to yourself. My friends and classmates liked me for who I am, not what I wore. I still got my lesson (as grandma would say), was in honors classes and I will best be remembered from my high school classmates as a bubbly girl who kept everyone laughing (and I still hold my title of "Best Sense of Humor c/o 1994 dear to my heart). And what really matters is that you still don't look a mess at your 10yr reunion cause then there may be cause for an intervention and an extreme makeover.