Saturday, September 12, 2009
I am lying underneath a rack of clothing in Marshall Fields. I am four and my mom is in the dressing room. I spend a long time running my hands over the clothes, touching the fabrics, the buttons, and zippers - getting lost in the colors and shapes. I love shopping with my mom. Today we are in Milwaukee visiting my Aunt Marian and Mom is trying to find a new bathing suit because she left hers at home. She goes into the dressing room and tells me not to move and I try really hard to stay put in the swimming suit section but there aren’t any good clothing tents to hide under plus I’m too short to reach them. I go through dresses and that was my favorite because they are easy to see and feel. The hangers slide over the bars like the wheels of roller skates, smooth and well oiled. After dresses I go through the skirts and blouses and eventually find a rack stuffed full of clothes to hide beneath. It is really cool in here. I am a queen and each item of clothing is one of my charges. I tell them all about the important events of the royal family and the castle. I’m getting a little sleepy so I think I’ll close my eyes.
I hear a man bellowing over the loud speaker, “if there is a little girl by the name of Diane Haas, please report to a sales clerk immediately. I am very sleepy but I’m pretty certain that’s me being paged to a sales clerk. I wonder what is taking my mom so long. I duck under the clothes and try to find a sales clerk. I tug on a lady and ask her if she is a clerk and she is startled, “are you the child they are looking for?”
“I guess so.”
“Where have you been?”
“Over there,” I point toward the rack and see now it has a big “Sale” sign above it. She takes my hand and hurriedly scurries to a sales clerk. The clerk puts her hands over her mouth and says “oh my god, here she is” now I’m afraid I’m in big trouble with my mom. Clearly all these people are very upset, and they don’t even know me. “where’s my mom,” I ask?
“Honey, you come with me” and again I am being rushed off to yet another location.
“My mom’s in the dressing room over there” I offer sheepishly.
“Okay, darling, you come with me.”
We are walking and walking and finally she brings me into an office. It smells like metal and cigarette smoke in here. She walks up to a man and announces proudly she has the child, as if her discovery will win her a prize. She tells him she needs to get back to her section. “What’s your name young lady, the man who introduces himself as the manager asks? “Diane” I say weakly, wishing my mom would come. “Well Diane, there been an accident and your mom had to go away in an ambulance but someone is going to come and pick you up real soon.”
I don’t think I knew what an ambulance was but it didn’t sound good. I wished for the comfort of my hiding place underneath the clothes rather than the stale stuffiness of the manager’s office. I now know that Go-Go was taken to the hospital and somehow my Aunt was called to pick me up. If I was frightened I don’t remember, but I had already become accustomed to strange and unpredictable things happening around me, and learned to stuff any feelings I might be having and ride the waves of uncertainty.