I spent the early years of my childhood in an eclectic corner of Boston called Jamaica Plain. We lived in a three-family walk-up nestled beside an alleyway of automotive shops and an unusually large urban cliff that bore moss in summer and pointy icicles in winter. No matter the season, my mother walked me to pre-kindergarten every day past bodegas and storefronts of colorful dresses. The vibrant fabrics of these feminine getups made each Massachusetts morning appear gloomy by comparison, and I dreamed of saving up enough money to someday buy one of these tulle concoctions. I later learned my favorite shop specialized solely in quinceañera gowns, which has me plumb out of luck now…Yes, it is with great sadness that I must admit my dream of growing up to be 15 and Latina never came true, but this harsh reality hasn’t softened my memory of just how strongly I desired a closet full of florescent tulle and sequins.
Whenever I see ballet tutus or wedding veils I think of these walks and my simple childhood aspirations, and each time I fall in love with the innocent girlie girl I used to be. I sometimes wonder what this girlie girl would have coveted had she grown up somewhere else; if I’d lived in Texas would I have craved magenta cowgirl boots, or if I’d lived in California would I have ached for a bedazzled surfboard? I guess I will never know, because, after all, life is not a choose-your-own-adventure book where you can flip back through the pages to see what would have happened if you didn’t sip from the bottle labeled “Drink me.” One thing I do know now, however, is that I love imagining I have my young self tucked away in my pocket so I can get her take on the strange, new things I encounter in my adult life. The only downside of this is that I have to zip my pockets tight whenever I pass quinceañera stores in the mall, and even so the youngster sometimes wriggles free and runs off to play among the gowns…Are there things like this that make it hard for you to restrain your inner child to this day? In other words, what’s your tulle?