People celebrate….or acknowledge… all kinds of anniversaries – weddings, births, first dates…even deaths. Because if something is anniversary-worthy, it’s probably a life-changing event.
Tomorrow is my one-year anniversary. A unique anniversary, to be sure, but just as life-changing as any of the events listed above. On May 20th of last year, on a cool evening, I entered the Morris Museum to attend a preview of the Love, Shirley Temple exhibit. I knew it would be emotional. I knew it would be incredible. I knew it would be my one and only chance to see costumes belonging to my life-long idol. Well, two out of three ain’t bad.
My plan in writing this post was to recall, step by step, the events of that night, but truth be told, I just don’t have it in me tonight. But I can tell you this – my life hasn’t been the same since. Although I didn’t know exactly what was to come, the Year of Shirley began that evening.
Sometimes you can pinpoint exactly when something begins, or changes. When I read a story, we discuss the turning point – the point at which the character changes or the resolution commences. We even have a hand gesture for it – kids will twist their fingers in the air to indicate that something has happened that will bring about a change in the book we’re reading. My moment was walking into the exhibit on shaky legs, hand gripping my daughter’s for support, and greeting the tour guide with the ridiculous outburst, “Hi, I’m Melissa, and I’m the biggest Shirley Temple fan.” As my Shirley soul sister says, “Oy.” But no men in white coats were called in…instead, he laughed and welcomed me in, going on to patiently answer my questions and calmly field my comments throughout the subsequent tour. Stuart Holbrook was more than a tour guide or a representative of an auction house. Much more. I wouldn’t realize just how much more until later.
And now it’s one year later. There will be more anniversaries to celebrate – one for each auction, one for the birth of Shirley’s Army and another for Shirley-palooza – and more, I’m sure. But I can’t help feeling overwhelmingly emotional tonight, on the eve of this particular anniversary. Because nothing has been the same since. And neither have I.
Some days are easy….today wasn’t. But on days such as this one, I now have something to hold on to, something I didn’t have a year ago. To quote Shirley herself, “I’m pretty lucky, alright.” And very, very thankful.