Me. Age 4. September 1978. It was my first day of kindergarten at Fries Avenue Elementary in Wilmington, Calif. I don’t remember much about that day, but I do recall this moment when Mom gave me this as a congratulations gift for being a big girl and going to school for the very first time.
I was a Grease girl. But who wasn’t at that time, right? While so many parts of my childhood are foggy at best, I clearly remember seeing this movie in the theater, many times. I loved this movie. No, you don’t understand — I LOOOOVVVEEED this movie. I wanted to be IN this movie. It’s hard to get a four year old to sit through anything for a few minutes, but I had no problem staring at a screen for two hours to watch this movie that featured a bunch of cool big kids singing and dancing. I was mesmerized by it. (Of course I didn’t realize then that the big kids in the movie were all older than my parents in real life…)
Needless to say, I was giddy when I received this gift. At that moment, nothing could have made me happier. Just look at that little face. Have you ever seen so much joy on a kid’s mug? My little heart began to sing and dance the second Mom placed it in my hands. I didn’t care about school. I had the Grease soundtrack.
I played the hell out of that record and my mom took me to see the movie many times. I never got tired of it. And thirty-plus years later, it still makes me smile and want to break into song and dance.
Where am I going with this? I don’t know. I came across this picture today and it made me think about what I was like at 4 and what I’m like at 37, and that basically, the only difference is age.
I smile like that every time I leave class, even if only on the inside. I can be red, sweaty, achy, toenails busted, and butt-ass tired, but the sheer joy in my heart makes up for all of that. Flamenco is a bit of a stretch from Grease, but it’s all song and dance just the same. And no matter what I’m going through, it still always makes me feel like the little girl in the picture.