I’m getting ready for my 18-year-old niece’s graduation party. I pull a skirt and blouse out of my suitcase. In Ohio, I’d be trendy. I’d even be a bit edgy on casual day at the office.
But I’m not in Ohio. I’m in Vegas.
Midwest hip has long been out in Vegas. So I run to my niece and cry, “HELP!” I don’t want to be a middle-aged aunt tonight. So she hands me a red dress and I don’t look back. The dance floor is calling me.
In my sister’s tiny back yard stands a wooden dance floor. The men came to set it up today in the heat of the Vegas sun. Nails pounding. Sweat pouring. But the sun is down. The DJ is playing. And the neighbors (and the police!) have been warned. It’s not every day that we celebrate a woman coming of age.
So we dance.
I look around the dance floor and I’m the oldest. By about 20 years. At first I feel a little silly (in my niece’s red dress and all) but then I don’t care. I feel like I’m 18 again. And it feels good.
My father spots me across the yard and he starts to walk toward me. He had a bad fall today, and I know he is bleeding. And hurting. But his long pants are covering his fresh wounds, and I know he wants to dance. He wants to feel 18 again too.
We both look at my niece, and she is beautiful. It is her 18th birthday, and she is the star of this show. And she loves to dance. After all, it is in her blood. So my father takes her hand, and they dance. Together.
Mind you, he may have had trouble walking today. But tonight he will dance. With ease.
Then my mother – the most beautiful woman alive – takes the dance floor. She and my father are trying to do the jitter bug to rap music, and I’m laughing so hard that I think I might wet my pants -- not a good thing when you are wearing somebody else's dress. And I’m reminded that these moments are gift. These moments when we feel 18 again.
I happen to think we’re all going to be 18 in heaven. Especially when we’re dancing.
(Kaitlyn at 18!)