in the middle of the week mama jumps out of bed with a smile on her face and yells down the hall let’s get the hell out of here girls! we grab our purses and sunglasses and march out the door in a parade of excitement and i sit in the backseat of the minivan feeling just like eliza doolittle ready to make my public debut. we arrive at ross and rush through the sliding doors into the air-conditioned building. eve beelines for the juniors racks while mama runs her fingers over shiny pots and colored glass jars in the housewares aisle.
i like to try on formal dresses. ones i can wear during piano recitals or on the rare chance i go to the symphony to see papa play cello. i fill my arms with puffed sleeves and velvet bodices and skirts dotted with sequins and head to the dressing room. then i twirl and twirl and twirl in the mirror until mama comes in with another dress to try on and the attendant says oh no ma’am there’s just some black girl in there. and then the fun is over.
that’s my daughter! mama storms past the attendant into my dressing room. and i understand why it makes her so mad. it makes me mad too. but in the car on the way home mama stares ahead with tears in the corners of her eyes and mutters to herself people just can’t see past color can they? and i feel like punching her. i am the one with the color after all. i am the one.