The Homecoming Mum

We moved into an upscale part of town when my mom remarried, my freshman year of high school. It was tough. No, it was down right hard moving into the school best known for its cliques and the over achieving, Louis Vuitton carrying, well provided for student population. There were the ‘in’ kids—the haves, and the ‘out’ kids—the have nots, that seemed to separate us all. When I arrived, immediately I tried to fit in, from clothing to purses, to your car key emblem…frankly whether or not you had a car, to the words I said and the bows I wore in my hair.

It was extremely important to ‘have’ as you can imagine. High school life was a challenge for this new kid, not only to keep up academically but socially. Looking back on it now, the pressure was horrendous and I’m not sure any adult in my life took notice. Moving into a new school, a new culture of socioeconomic status, and a new world altogether was incredibly difficult for this teenager. Frankly, I’ve never acknowledged just how tough it was for that teen girl until now.

It was my junior year and the homecoming game was three weeks away, which meant the homecoming dance was too. At this point I didn’t have a date for the dance; translation, I wasn’t going.

The pomp and circumstance around homecoming at my school was enough to make anyone feel like an outsider if you weren’t a part of the ‘in-crowd’. After all, what good were you if you didn’t have a giant flower hanging from your blouse, donned with ribbons and trinkets? Yes, I said that. This is how my 16-year-old brain worked at the time and how my heart felt.

I spent days thinking about those beautiful flowers. Every time I walked into a store and saw the trinket options and the colorful ribbons and braids made for those spectacular corsages my heart would ache. I didn’t have a boyfriend. I wondered, would I receive one? Who would think enough of me to get me one? When a girl received a homecoming mum delivered to the school office, her name would be announced over the intercom for all of the school to hear. Oh how I wanted to hear, “Tracy, please come to office for your pick up”.

You see I wanted so desperately to fit in. I wanted to be one of those girls, popular enough to receive a homecoming mum. I didn’t want to be left out. Not here. Not now. How could I grace the halls without one? Would I be the only one without?

My step-dad was not a fan of loose change. He didn’t carry anything that didn’t fit into his money clip. His closet floor was filled with not only designer dress shirts that needed to be dry cleaned, but also tons of change. He’d take it out of his pocket at the end of the day and drop it on the floor. Hidden in the corners were piles of nickels, dimes and quarters.

Over the course of a couple of months I would take his dry cleaning from the car and hang it in his closet. Every time I would pocket a couple of the silver pieces from the floor, there were piles of change so I was pretty sure he wouldn’t miss any. Soon I had fifty dollars in coins. I made my way to the nearest florist with my bag of change. I chose the most wonderful ribbons and even one with my name on it in gold glitter letters. I was able to get a braid too, with several bells. I arranged for it to be delivered to me at school on homecoming day.

I remember arriving at school that day with great anticipation. Around 11 o’clock they made the early day announcements for mum pick-ups. My name was not included in the bunch. My heart ached a little more, wondering if something went wrong. The next announcement would be before lunch dismissal. Finally as they made their way to the W’s they announced my name. I made my way to the office to claim my mum and wore it proudly all day. I belonged. I fit in, if for just that moment, just that day, I was just like the rest of them. Day13 #Write31days

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