By Lauren, age 16, California
I've been to weddings. Not many, but a couple, perhaps surprising for a violinist my age. I've seen receptions, played during that age-long walk of the bride, all in the same drab outfit fittingly dubbed "the nun dress". Despite the fact that these "gigs" are just another job, I greet them with enthusiasm. But fifteen-year olds don't have weddings.
A friend of mine, Alexandra*, turns fifteen this January. She's a wonderful, enchantingly childish, popular girl. And rich.
Her party invitation? A movie theater ticket.
"I hope you can make it to the reception! The girls wear purple and white!" she calls, as her mom whisks her away.
Like a startled kitten, I blink and smile. Reception? Colors? Wedding?
So, as I finish the final stitches on a purple dress for that very occasion, I marvel at how the actual night might go. Being invited to her party feels like walking into a room with foreign diplomats - you really aren't sure why you made it on the list. I'll know no one there, and despite how her mom takes a liking to me, I'll be hanging in the shadows, a beggar hardly passing in disguise. But I wouldn't turn her down.
"Ms. Garcia said she spent a thousand dollars on the party," my mother informs me. There's a trickle of bitterness in it, that her daughter can have anything she desires. I wouldn't trade lives with the girl, though. It's more of a master-and-slave relationship than a mother-and-daughter one, from what I've seen.
As for my gift, I'm undecided. Words are priceless, but often ignored. Of material goods she's far from lacking. I know I'll write a poem for her, built on wishes, since everyone wishes for something they can't reasonably have, and maybe create a necklace with her favorite color (orange), but beyond that I don't know.
I know she'll dance with a childhood friend, "Teddy", as she calls him, and I know she'll have a beautiful orange dress on, more than thirty different friends (admirers and followers), and every family member imaginable there, staring on proudly. And I know she won't look at them. She'll think of how perfect it would be with one more thing, her dream, the man next to the bride.
But she's only fifteen. She keeps trying.
When her mother is angry, Alexandra tells me, she is told she won't be "accepted to Princeton, Harvard, or Yale," and that she should "attend the local community college" instead. Everyone knows she's above that. Even I'm aiming for Princeton; the chances are slim, but I'm bound to end up somewhere along the way, hopefully with a full ride.
Just as before, I'm a beggar in disguise, chin up with pride and belief. I believe in dreams. I believe in myself to take me to them. To Alexandra I tell the same, to not give up, because time is never wasted. Her chances are better than mine of landing at Princeton with her Prince Charming, but I don't mind, because it's a dream, a seamless dream, before the falls and the failures, when you're flying on your own self-esteem.
The dress is finished. I put it on, fingers tracing along the stitch lines of the dark violet fabric (which is actually jacket liner, much cheaper, but still beautiful), searching for any holes, as hand-sewing isn't perfect like a machine's. I look up into the mirror at those same golden-brown eyes, at the first colored dress I've ever worn (black is only for concert attire), at the half-wavy "sorceress hair" spilling over my shoulders, and smile.
I hold a ticket to a seamless dream.
* Names have been changed.