As a kid I absolutely despised being dragged along during mom’s antiquing excursions. Everything was so breakable, and I was instructed not to touch anything. (Mom loves to tell everyone about the time I broke an antique doll while twirling around in my dress. I had a cast on my arm, and that cast came into contact with a lovely doll’s face, and, well, let’s just say the cast won. This is probably when I got the nickname Grace).
But one day my hate for antiquing melted away. We were at a small shop in Sarasota, Florida, and mom was admiring pretty, fragile things that I wasn't able to fondle, so I was wandering about the store aimlessly. But after a minute or two of wandering, something caught my eye. It was a rack of vintage clothes. A long, dark brown fur coat that initially sparked my interest, but as I took a look around I noticed how different and interesting all the garments were. I had never seen clothes at an antique store before. I was immediately hooked. The texture—I loved the way the furs and silks and scratchy polyester all felt different in my hands. They were much more stimulating than my standard cotton T-shirts and Umbro soccer shorts. And the patterns—oh, I loved the geometric and large floral patterns of the 60s and 70s. And some of them even smelled like Great’s house. (Great is what I called my great grandmother.)
I got completely lost in this circular rack of vintage attire, and for once my mother had to ask me if I was ready to go. I wanted so badly to take one of these treasures home, but how could I choose? I picked out a shirt with fluorescent colors and a big floral pattern. It was so cool, and when I turned to my mom she giggled and said it was definitely “flower power”. I had never heard that phrase before, “flower power”, but I was pretty sure I could figure it out. Well flowers, girls like flowers, this is a girls shirt, and then power. Hmmm .I've got it. “Flower Power” must mean that girls can be strong and smart and everything else just like boys can. I knew that a long, long time ago people didn't think that way, and maybe this whole “flower power” thing started the change. This was a piece of history, and I felt empowered just touching it. I also knew the kids at school would at least be interested in it, though they might think it was “weird” and not quite as cool as I did. Then I looked at the price tag. Honestly, I don’t remember how much it cost, I just remember that I either didn't have enough money or I didn't want to spend that many weeks’ worth of allowance on it. So we left.
When we got home I couldn't wait to tell dad all about the Flower Power shirt. He laughed, too, just like mom had. Maybe the 60s/70s were just tacky to them, as they had lived through those trends and it was only 1993. But to me it spoke to something more. It was history. And to be honest, I didn't learn what "Flower Power" meant until I was 19.