She's off on a college tour with her scholar group this week, and unlike when she has visited colleges with her parents (as in the photo here), she is required to wear dress pants or a not-too-short skirt or dress. Absolutely no jeans, the scholars were told. This presented more of a problem than you would think. She had dressy jeans and fancy dresses, but nothing that falls into the category of not-too-short business casual. And that meant last minute shopping on Sunday, to try and secure appropriate dresses and a demure top that she could pair with her one not-too-short skirt.
Not too short, by the way, meant nothing shorter than the tips of her fingers when her arms were held straight down at her sides. "But I have long arms!" she complained. Her preferred place to seek the garments was Urban Outfitters. On the way there, we passed a Lohmann's store that looked to me as if it would have perfectly fine dresses, but she grabbed my arms and said, "Please, please don't make me go in there, Mom," and I decided to laugh and indulge her. I can imagine if you're 17 and required to pull off business casual, you at least want to skirt the edge of hipster chic. We did in fact find three garments that fit the bill, a sleeveless navy blue number with eyelet stitching at the neck and hem ("I'll add a belt and this can be my interview dress," she announced), a sweet white top that looked great against her skin and will go nicely with any skirt, and a cream colored dress with a floaty skirt and lines of little gold studs on the bodice. The straps of the last dress are skinny and bare, so my girl will wear a light cardigan over it.
Tuesday night while she was packing we had a session of trying on outfits. She paired the cream dress with her purple sweater, the sleeves pushed three-quarter way up, and she added a thin, woven leather belt at the waist, a touch of urban that contrasted nicely with the silky swish of the skirt. She looked adorable to her mother, as if she wasn't trying too hard but hit the mark anyway. Next she tried on the white top with the blue and black aztec patterned skirt, and we agreed that she needed to wear her bike shorts under them, and under the cream dress too, just in case. Of course, to my eye, she was perfect.
She wore the cream dress when she left on Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. Her dad drove her to lower Manhattan to meet up with her group and chaperones and their bus. I didn't go with them. It was way too early for me. She wore brown leather gladiator sandals and had her slouchy battered leather bag over her shoulder, stuffed with notebooks and pens and iPod and the breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and applesauce that I packed for her. She looked ready.
But for a brief moment, she was still my little girl. When I handed her the packed breakfast she melted. She said, "Aw, Mom, it's just like when you used to pack my lunch every day for science camp." And she hugged me. I felt a little misty and sentimental myself. And now she is out there touring campuses for the next three days, texting me here and there with cryptic messages that we will debrief about later, I suppose. I hope. On day one, "Wesleyan was good, but different than I expected. Yale was nice but I don't want to like it." Today they will visit Williams and Amherst. Tomorrow, Cornell and Colgate. She is so very on her way.