Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Glitter Girl

Great-aunt Katherine was small-boned and petite. She radiated sweetness, and when she had something to add to a conversation, she'd get so excited about it she would bounce on the balls of her feet till it was her turn to speak. She was Giggy's older sister, and to this day I think Gig is still jealous of her for receiving so much of their mother's affection.

Our church, New Creation, was participating in an inter-church festival, and Katherine was in charge of preperations. My aunt Brenda and family-friend Christy Hall were both in the women's dance troupe that would be performing. They wore white dresses with big, inch-high colored jewels on the fronts, representing the twelve tribes of Israel and the priestly robes of Levi. My brother and sister and all their Sunday School classmates were in the flag twirlers troupe that Katherine led and choreographed, and their big red flags furled in the air as they practiced. In a big, busy, and poor family, it was easy for a youngest child to get left out. But Katherine thought of me, and she gave me the most important role in the entire New Creation procession: I was to be the Glitter Girl.

Like the flower girl at a wedding, as glitter girl I would lead the column of flag twirlers and dancers. Instead of scattering petals before me, I would shower the aisle with flecks of gold. Two weeks before the big day Katherine came to the house with a basket full of silver glitter. She told me that we would practice with silver, and work our way up to gold for the night of the performance. I put on my lavender bathing suit with silver flecks sewn in, so that any glitter that stuck to me during practice would be camoflouged by my outfit (until the next time I went swimming when, I'm sure, the glitter got sucked into the pool filter). We stood in the backyard and she taught me how to sprinkle the glitter in wide and sparkling arcs.

"You want the glitter to reach all the way to the first person sitting on either side of the aisle," she told me, and I stretched my arm as wide and high as I could as I carefully slipped the glitter pieces between my forefinger and thumb. The week of the festival, Gig took me to K-Mart for my first-ever brand new dress. I remember that she was feeling harried that day; Gig was always running late or running behind, so most days she was short-tempered and quick-tongued. But this day I didn't care if I was taking too long; I wanted to look at every dress they had and choose the one that was just right. I settled on a navy blue dress with white polka dots and a white lace collar with a single rose sewn in the center.

The big night came and I put on my brand new dress, stockings, and black Mary Janes. We loaded up into the station wagon and headed for the festival. I remember the practie and anticipation better than I remember the actual event. My memory of going their or coming home is fuzzy, but the memories of walking down the aisle, of stretching my limbs to get glitter to the farthest edges of my path, and of my pride in wearing that brand new dress - those memories are crystal clear.

Image credit goes to =Fallen-Stock of Deviant Art. That's not me, but it's pretty close to what I looked like at the time.