Today always brings a wistful melancholy.
Forty years later. I still remember.
I was in kindergarten. My friend Jeannie was in one class. I was in the other. We walked to and from school together every day. But once we reached the building, we took off our coats and hats and gloves and boots and put on our school shoes. She went to her class and I went to mine. We saw each other at recess and at “Morning Time.”
At Morning Time, the two classes sat together in the common area between the two classrooms. We sang a song. We talked about which day of the week it was. And if the date was significant in some way.
First Day of Spring.
Jeannie and I were sitting next to each other. Like we always did during Morning Time. It was cold outside. Still snow on the ground. I was wearing my favorite dress. A soft, grey wool sweater dress with a pink polka dot border at the bottom. It twirled. A little. And I had on tights. And little grey boots. The boots click-clacked when I walked. I felt grown-up. Pretty.
It was the first day of spring. And it was still very cold. But Jeannie was wearing a short sleeved white dress with little blue and yellow flowers all over. Her dress really twirled. It had a ruffle at the bottom and at the sleeves. She was wearing white tights and shiny patent leather shoes. She felt grown-up and pretty.
Mrs. Kay, Jeannie’s teacher, was leading the group. She asked us about spring. And the new life and colors it brings. She asked everyone who was wearing pretty spring colors to stand up.
I looked down at my pretty, pink polka dots and smiled. Jeannie and I clasped hands and stood up together.
Mrs. Kay talked about each of the colors she saw and when she got to me she said, “Jane, sit down, please. You’re not wearing spring colors today.”
“But Mrs. Kay….I’m wearing pink polka dots.”
“No, Sweetie. Your dress is grey.”
All she could see was the grey. All I knew was that my favorite soft, grey wool dress with pink polka dots was now ugly and itchy.
I plopped down as I heard Mrs. Kay say, “Now everyone look at Jeannie’s dress. White with those pretty blue and yellow flowers! What a wonderful celebration of spring!”
I didn’t hear much after that. My grey dress was no longer my favorite. One sentence took that all away.
To recognize the First Day of Spring today, I wore my favorite grey cardigan. With a pale, pink blouse underneath.
In honor of Mrs. Kay.
I do that quite often now. For the past 20 years, or so, I wear a combination of grey and pink on the First Day of Spring. My adult self, showing my 5-year-old self that grey and pink can feel like spring. It’s an attitude. It’s from within.
And words will not diminish me anymore.