Chapter Four

Coming of Age

Sierra peers up at me from beneath the rolled-back brim of her very feminine lavendar velour hat. My first and only granddaughter is almost two years old, dynamic and sturdy, and if I could spare her anything the transition from all that is the best of childhood to all that is the worst of adolescence would be it.

Always tall, I grew taller than my mother and my head bobbled hugely above my shoulders with thick unruly hair just like hers. (To this day, I'm always startled - as though I've never seen it before - at how big my head is. I've never worn hats for this reason, except once to a funeral.) I looked dazed a lot because my vision was imperfect . The day I got my first pair of glasses my mother and I went to see the movie, Little Women, and I realized on some instinctive level that this was the real world - this technicolor extravaganza - and I'd best make a decision whether I wanted to stay in it. Like my favorite kingdom, the Land of Oz, it was only technicolor as long as you lingered there. Once you returned to Kansas, it was just plain two-dimensional in shades of black and white. I saw the beauty of it better, but the bleak reality of dirt and frowns and disenchantment was even more discernible. Did I want to scrutinize the effects of teenage hormones on my skin? Did I want to know how drab it all could be? Did I really want to register the subtle expressions of those who might ignore or dislike me? It became a lifelong shock I've elected to avoid to this day, wearing glasses only when absolutely necessary to see for distance or in the dark.

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