a world where anything is possible

June 10th, 2015

Violet_from_the_Incredibles_by_mark33776“My new hair makes me feel like Violet from The Incredibles.”

Yesterday was the day before the last day of ninth grade, and I had done the incredible. I’d said yes when my daughter asked if she could color her hair darker, a color she said she’d been envisioning since sixth grade but never asked because I would say no. She’s right: I would have said no.

But by the end of a school year gravity lightens, a no can levitate to a yes, and the whys become why nots. Her new hair was dark, and I was wordless at the reveal, gnawing on my tongue, counting future shampoos before the fade, but she was empowered.

You might remember a little something about Violet Parr from The Incredibles, a teenager stuck at the crossroads between a girl and a woman. She wants to be normal. She wants to belong and blend in, so she hides behind a curtain of raven locks.

“There’s a lot of blue hair,” my daughter said at the beginning of her freshman year at the arts school, when I asked what it was like. And then to revive me, “You don’t have to worry.” Another day with a sigh, “I can say this much: there definitely isn’t a dress code.” She was wearing the awkward weight of her normalcy. She wondered aloud whether arts school was the right place for her and started looking for new schools, fretting over applications and admission deadlines, aiming for an old-fashioned, ivy-covered place with a dress code and uniforms where she could look and be like everyone else. Invisible.

“You don’t like it?” she asked to my frozen face on the ride home from the hairdresser’s.

“I have a picture to show you,” I said when the words came out.

***

It was the fall of 1998, and we were on vacation in New England: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. We were too late for the turning leaves, but something drew us there in those still-childless but trying-to-get-pregnant days, the urgency of an impending change, the sense that time was running out, the want of magic.

When you’re 42 and trying to get pregnant, it doesn’t seem impossible, not at first. But then it doesn’t work, and nothing works, and you don’t want to do that thing where you end up with eight babies, and so you go to Boston looking for a sign. And there it was on page 34 of the October 1998 issue of Boston Magazine, a picture of a girl who looked like it might be her one day. You tear it out of the magazine and keep it for 17 years.

***

The incredible really did happen this year: she got into a dreamy new school, a century-old institution with plaid skirts and ivy walls. We straightaway bought the uniforms, she eased herself into a comfortable identity, and we waited out the last two months of this semester. The transition would be complete when the new school started in September.

In April the first-year theatre students staged their debut. At the arts school, they make the freshmen wait nearly a year to perform, learning classical technique to discipline their fear and self-centeredness. Trained actors take themselves behind a dark curtain and come alive in a brilliant new world where absolutely anything is possible. She disappeared into the stage that night, remembering who she is, what she does, why she came, and two days later told us she would have to stay where she already was, foregoing the school transfer. “I cannot leave a place where there is this much love.”

Violet’s superpowers allow her to turn instantly invisible, creating anti-gravitational force fields within which she levitates heavy objects including herself.

***

I looked in every dusty, old, half-filled, falling-apart journal I still have. The picture wasn’t where I thought, but it was exactly where I remembered.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 9.01.21 AM

“Is that you?” she asked when I showed her.

“No, it’s you.”

11 Comments »

  1. All I can say is WOW! And of course that I love everything that you write!

    Comment by Darasue — June 10, 2015 @ 12:47 pm

  2. This is an exceptional post….you remind me that all and anything is truly possible…thank you for waking my inner Violet

    Much love to you and Georgia…..

    Trish

    Comment by Trish — June 10, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

  3. Chills.

    Comment by cathy muir — June 10, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

  4. Oh definitely chills. Wow!

    Comment by marcea — June 10, 2015 @ 3:00 pm

  5. So much good thinking & loving and, as a bonus, her hair looks BEAUTIFUL!

    Comment by katy — June 10, 2015 @ 4:44 pm

  6. That. Is. Amazing. And your daughter is beautiful. And another beautiful post as well.

    My daughter researched colleges like a professional, with a spreadsheet of which ones had the things important to her. She was over the moon when she got into her first choice; and wanted to switch after the first semester. I persuaded her to finish the year, since she wouldn’t be able to get in anywhere else until fall anyway, and then she could transfer. By June she was in love with her school. One of my finer parenting moments.

    Your post brought the memory back.

    Comment by Gretchen Staebler — June 10, 2015 @ 8:28 pm

  7. <3
    She is ab-so-lu-te-ly gorgeous – as she was before and will be! And yay for saying yes!

    Comment by Roos — June 11, 2015 @ 1:29 am

  8. I’m not quite understanding…you mean you saved a picture of a stranger because of something it said to you? Or is that you? In any case, your daughter looks strong, beautiful and happy, and that is a joyous thing!

    Comment by Clare — June 11, 2015 @ 7:58 am

  9. Remarkable, beautiful. Both of you. Thank you.

    Comment by Katharine — June 11, 2015 @ 8:37 am

  10. Your vision held space for her becoming. And, she did.

    How fortunate she saw the gift of love already around her, that she knows what she wants and said yes, and that you were courageous enough also to say yes.

    Comment by MJ — June 11, 2015 @ 11:08 am

  11. What I find tricky is that I feel children shouldn’t be allowed to “fail”. They can choose something and decide it is not for them, but even then I feel we have to find a way to round it off before letting it go. But they have to find their own inner integrity and honesty in that and we have to trust that they will.
    Now you are stuck with the plaid skirts I guess.
    It is scary for everybody to be oneself and it is scary to wholeheartedly choose the unknown and be responsible for whatever that entails.
    Good luck Georgia, trust that life is good to you and she will be.

    Comment by Simone — June 12, 2015 @ 12:34 am

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