Here in Ann Arbor, it is Homecoming Week, an event that’s been a distant memory up until the middle of September when Hadley, who is a high school freshman told me, “Mom, I need a dress for HOCO.”
“What is HOCO?” I asked. (Nobody speaks in words anymore, and I am a crotchety old lady.)
Since that moment HOCO has been, like, so totally at the front and center of my mind.
I didn’t go to my Homecoming dances until my junior and senior years of high school. People are at times surprised to learn this because it’s a) a dance, one of my favorite activities, and b) an event one dresses up for, another of my favorite activities. However, back in the time of the dinosaurs, if we wanted to go to HOCO we needed a date. Hence, going to HOCO meant I would have to talk to someone and also dance with someone—not activities I was interested in.
These days one does not need a date to go. Plus one can wear whatever one wants. I am happy about this progression and only a tad jealous. Oak Park High School and River Forest High School (home of the Huskies) owe me my 1990 and 1991 HOCO dances.
At Hadley’s high school the dance will take place outside with a strong encouragement to wear masks. Hadley is marching in the band, which she is so excited about, and since the dance will happen right after the football game, she plans on getting dressed on campus. “I know where a ton of bathrooms are now,” my freshman girl tells me. She didn’t think it was at all funny when I suggested she attend the dance in her band uniform.
I searched for homecoming poems in preparation for this prompt, and the first one that popped up was a poem for soldiers. I didn’t think that was the right match until I read this definition of the word homecoming in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: “the act of returning to your home or to a place that is like your home.”
I wonder if there is a sort of battle in this rite of passage. What does it mean to return home? Or, perhaps more accurately, to make yourself at home in a place that is temporary? High school is not where we stay (well, some of us, anyway). Being at home with one’s self, in the world, among others, does seem to involve the romance of struggle.
I’m not sure I’ll get pictures of Hadley in her dress because of how the evening is organized, but maybe this too is appropriate to the order of things. She will probably take selfies with her friends and send (some of them) to me.
And I will smile, looking at my girl doing her best to be at home in this new world that is changing every day.
This week write a homecoming poem. It can be a sending off poem to someone who’s going to HOCO, a poem about football, a dance, or anything else you associate with this experience.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s one from Megan Willome that we enjoyed:
I cannot take a knife
to the red potato
shaped like your heart
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