As I grow older, my collection of memories seems to play a much stronger role in how I continue to fine-tune the woman that I am. One of my fondest and most vivid memories is about the first time I saw one of my favorite women wearing polka dots. I was a fresh person in college and I was walking through campus carrying all of these books back to my dorm. I think I had just gotten my first major writing assignment; or perhaps, my memory fails me and I was really carrying just one huge chemistry book (because little do folks know, I was initially really interested in majoring in chemistry).
I remember feeling the cold northeastern fall for the first time ever while I waited to cross the street. The air upon my face was really thick, heavy and ominous; from a composite memory of all those cold nights I spent in New Haven, I can almost feel now how cold my nose felt that day. I was a girl from southern California finally getting a sense of how cold it could get, and it was only just October. I huddled and I stared on as I waited for the light to turn green. On the other side of the street, there was a lady with a polka dot bag. In a super cheery disposition, she looked straight at me, smiled, and waved. I looked around behind me and there was no one there so she must have been waving at me. I thought to myself, okay, I know her, she’s waving at me, but the truth is…I had really no idea who she was. But she seemed so warm, so friendly, so Polka-dotted, that I smiled and waved back.
A few years later I had the privilege of taking a class with Alicia Schmidt-Camacho, the lady with the polka-dot bag. Already I’m getting teary just thinking about her. Even though college was over five years ago, I am still digesting how this woman changed my life; and I know at least four other women who will feel exactly the same way when they read this. She is truly a phenomenal woman that wears her polka dots with a bright, warm smile.
It’s amazing to look back and realize that Alicia knew who I was, before I even knew who she was. Such was the magnitude of her instant love for me (a girl from the hood, who had no idea what she had signed for when she decided to venture east). [Okay, the tears are out]. Without hesitation, she sent a smile full of whimsical polka dots at me, across the street, through the cold, through the vacant space between us, and made me feel soo warm for one brief moment in time. And even though it happened almost ten years ago, it’s a lifelong gift of a memory.
I've noticed that whenever I wear or see polka dots, I get this warm fuzzy feeling of whimsical beauty. Perhaps...this really isn’t an ode to polka dots. Perhaps this is another one of my moments in which I realize how thankful I am to have such wonderful women guiding me in this lifelong transformation. Whatever this ode is about, I thank you dearly Alicia, for this sweet, beautiful memory of you and your polka dot bag.