These days, with greater frequency, loneliness stops by to stay awhile. More and more often, seeking relief from the overwhelming sadness, I climb the attic stairs to find companionship among familiar boxes. I know which box contains the treasured sheet music or which box is packed with personal letters, and, I have no trouble finding the emotional-filled box holding piles of photographs.
I suppose my favorite boxes are those filled with the fragile, never-aging, beauty queen memorabilia…..the southern belle gowns, rhinestone crowns, trophies, articles, black and white photographs and, recordings. For a brief time, sitting among the memories, I am linked to voiceless friends and playmates, instant replays of happier times. The beauty queen photos are true, the memories are real, and, for a few minutes, I re-live the excitement, the thrill of it all. Once again, I am the little girl playing dress-up, play-acting with the image in the mirror.
The day after winning the title of Miss Arkansas, my father spoke to me, alone. "Its times like these you want to freeze the moment...stay young forever, let time stand still, and never move beyond the good feelings." I only wanted to be Miss Arkansas for one year, but I wanted the good feelings---and my father---to last forever.
Each time I re-visit the beauty queen memories, I am confronted with the same question: “If you could do it all over again, would you? Knowing all you know today, would you still have said “yes” to that first beauty pageant? "
Some questions don't have answers.