It’s funny how words take on such a different connotation.
For most of my life, it was that dance. My mother would talk about it. Her memories from the night. The dress, the date, the corsages. Going out to dinner. The big football game against their rivarly. I would dream it in my head–my Homecoming someday. Then, they came. I had the dresses, attended the dances, cheered at the football games and stood before our bonfires. Homecoming Dance. Homecoming week–full of its Spirit Days, costumes, contests. I remember feeling so grown up–I had made Homecoming memories that I would share with my daughters someday.
I stood in Target today, trying them on. Eight months pregnant and nearly tumbling over as I fastened them on my feet, while my daughter looked on from the giant red card. I pulled at my lengthy maternity skirt, as I paced in front of the mirror.
“What do you think, Elizabeth?” I asked, agonizing.
She blinked. “Shoes!” and bumped the sides of her fists together for the sign.
“Do they look good?” I paced some more. Excitement in the air.
“Ooh! What about these earrings, Elizabeth? And look at this bracelet!” Into the cart they went, alongside the shoes.
Homecoming. It’s taken on a different meaning. Still, I will put together a gorgeous outfit, agonize over my hair, meticulously apply my makeup. But there will be no bonfires, no football games. We will not dance with flowers on our wrist.
We will count down the days for weeks. Instead of one outfit, I will painstakingly choose three. I will wash and re-wash the outfits, iron them repeatedly. We will wake up ridiculously early, arrive long before the event will start. I will stand on a parade field, instead of a gym. I will wait for my Soldier to enter, instead of praying for a date. And I will have two beautiful children–our children–in my arms as we finally meet again.
I am so excited. I still have months to go. The last few weeks of a pregnancy. A birth. Transition with a newborn and a toddler. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year’s.
But, it’s coming.
It’s like looking forward to Christmas and to your wedding day. Combined.
When the lights are out at night, and the house is silent, I play it over and over in my head. That day. That moment. In my outfit. I envision Homecoming, in its truest sense.