Summer Story

July 17, 2011

Sitting around the breakfast table the other day while chatting with a guest, a memory was triggered in my mind–one of those coming-of-age stories that we all have….

We were preparing for the CAVENT–the Cadette Event that 7th and 8th grade Girl Scouts all over the East Coast would attend–and I was one of the lucky ones who would get to go.  I had never been to New York City, so I was beside myself with anticipation.  I don’t remember what we did to get ready, and I don’t remember the trip there.  But I can see myself clearly in my mind’s eye, crossing one of the busy streets in the Big Apple, when all of a sudden, I realized something kind of sad, I guess.  It was a good thing to know, you could say, and it was OK, but it was sad, too.

I had worn my uniform with pride, up to that point.  I thought it was sharp–oh-so-Girl-Scouty–which, as far as I knew, was about as cool as cool could get:  a green skirt with white blouse and sash.  (I don’t know if we wore the hats.  They were not as cool.)  The design was simple and chic.

We were Girl Scouts.  And Cadettes besides, one step away from the oldest girls in scouting.

Because we didn’t have a lot of money, my mother had sewn my green skirt.  I don’t know if she used fabric she’d already had or if she used the only green fabric available at the store, but it was not an exact match to the official uniform color.  But I’d never thought about the fact that it was different.  I had a uniform and that was all that mattered.  I loved it.

I loved my uniform until I got to New York City.  Until I saw all of the other Cadettes with their bright green skirts (next to my dingy moss green skirt) in New York City.  Until I saw all of the New York City people in their New York City clothes and New York City shoes.  My clothes weren’t up to official Cadette standard, and none of the Cadettes’ clothes were up to NYC standards.   I was 2 strikes down.  And I knew it.  And I knew it all at once, while we were crossing that street.

Funny.  That moment on the street is the only thing I remember about the CAVENT.  And I hadn’t remembered any of it until the recent breakfast conversation.  It wasn’t a bad memory, or sad, at this point.  Actually, I’d say it was good.  I had a mother who loved me and cared enough about me to make me a Girl Scout uniform, so that her little girl could be as Girl-Scouty as we could afford, and that was a real gift.

I lived through my time on that NYC street; it didn’t kill me when I realized that the world was bigger than I’d known.  I’d noted it and assimilated it and even remembered it as a kind of a big thing, but I was OK.  No, I was better than OK.  And I am grateful.  Very, very grateful.  Thank you, Lord, for a mom who loved me like that.

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