New Year's Eve, 1987. I was fifteen, with the fizziness of possibilities that evening might bring bubbling up inside me like so much champagne. My brothers were letting me tag along with them to a discotheque that was THE place to be, and had only told me that afternoon. Along with the anticipation, came the realization that I had nothing to wear that possibly matched the occasion.
My mother sent me out on some errands, and when I returned, she had a surprise for me - she had turned one of her saris into a dress for me to wear. Now, this was not a typical Indian sari - it was white tulle, with pale blue abstract flowers printed on it, and the fabric was shot through with silver thread - in other words, more suited to the kind of dress my mother had made. The fitted bodice with a wide (but modest) sweetheart neckline ballooned out into a full skirt that hit mid-calf. I put it on, and immediately felt like Cinderella.
Looking back, I want to laugh at how hopelessly un-cool I must have looked. Walking into a discotheque dressed like I was going to a middle school dance earned me some snickers by the glamorous women in their early twenties with teased hair, giant plastic hoops and chunky bracelets to match their neon spandex outfits. But I floated on that cloud of tulle feeling like the prettiest girl there.
That unconscious ability - to ignore what was around me, and just lead with how I felt - has both got me in sticky situations, and got me out of them. It has caused me to make some really stupid decisions, and yet not regret them when all was said and done. There is no moral to this story, no sage advice to offer.
Just gratitude. For the stars in that silly fifteen year old's eyes that reflected off the silver in her dress. For my mother, who showed love by sewing me pretty things. For an adolescent love that broke me and forced me to learn how to put myself back together. For a resilience and sense of adventure that carried me across oceans and continents to this imperfect country that finally rooted me. For my husband, who remains my knight in slightly tarnished armor. For my children, who aren't afraid to challenge me. For a deeply ingrained need to feed people, thereby making them happy for at least the five minutes it takes them to eat a cookie. For the people who buy the food I make, which makes me happy to have aching feet at the end of the day. For every incredible meal I have consumed that makes me want to learn more. For a family wedding that brought every member of our family together for the first time. For every opportunity in 2019 that has taught me, stretched me, and reinforced old lessons.
Wishing everyone a very happy New Year, see you in 2020.
Wife, mother, baker, jam maker, hug dispenser, reader.