When I was 20, I dyed my hair pink for the day, donned a crushed, burgundy velvet cocktail dress that had been my grandmother’s, and took my college boyfriend to a hotel on the edge of town as a Valentine’s surprise. The night is no more memorable than that: my hair, the dress, the stale room with its plastic cups. I can’t even recall if we kissed.
Years later, when my kids’ babysitter – a girl who had grown up locally and who’s mom had worked with my mom – said, “I think I have a dress of yours,” I was surprised to see that same velvet dress. Neither of us could connect the dots exactly as to how it had ended up in her closet, but now it’s back in mine–musty and waiting for someone else to put it on and wear it with hope and panache. Someone who thinks just maybe love comes in a bottle and one day a year it’s okay to hope for something extra.
I still wait for magic. I wish I was over this lifelong habit, that I’d give up on it, just like that sorry-ass hair dye that faded within days. And yet I still wait for God to leap out of a stall at a roadside rest stop and pull me into a pool of shimmering light that will fill my every pore and make my breath feel at once tranquil and electric. And I hope that Buddha may be lurking on the path in the woods, ready to grab my hand and pull me aside, to open my eyes wider and wider until they almost hurt with the vibrant pulsating green love he shares.
I used to take a shower and fear Ted Bundy or Charles Manson would be on the other side of the thin plastic cover. When I had to close my eyes to rinse the shampoo, I’d be so certain that I’d open them to the sight of a face pressed near my mine – sour breath and maniacal eyes – that I’d jump when all I saw was tiles and soap dish.
I wait now for that moment of magic, that moment of grace – certain that it won’t come but also daring Life and every angel flying in her midst: Bring it on, fucker. Bring it on.