I rang in my nineteenth birthday this weekend with perfect weather and a bunch of incredibly well-timed and free events on campus. If that isn’t classic Patricia Moscoso luck, I have no idea what is.

On Friday night, my friends and I got dressed up for Prom Night at the Johnson Museum, a celebration of Mary Ellen Mark’s Prom Series. Over the past three years, she photographed high school proms all over the U.S., and our own Johnson Museum showcased her work with highlights from her photoshoot at Ithaca High. The Museum hosted a free event for students only: “Eat, dance, get your picture taken… all the old favorites, plus stroll the galleries and make your own corsages and boutonnieres.”  I have a hard time saying no to chances to get dressed up, and I was able to successfully coerce a good group of friends to join me.

We looked sharp, and our tissue paper boutonnieres turned out way better than any of us would have predicted (the best one was clearly made by an engineer.) The photographs were fantastic.  I was particularly struck by one with a girl in a white dress and a guy in a Marine Corps uniform. Their expressions best reflected the point of this exhibit: prom as a liminal experience between adolescence and adulthood. Her uncertainty was palpaple, and his uniform and commitment to military service couldn’t be a better representation of growing up.

The photos definitely got me thinking about my own senior prom. At our high school with its comical gender imbalance, prom wasn’t quite the defining experience that it seemed to be for so many in the photographs. Most of us elected to go in groups and not even sweat asking a date; I believe my prom group had something like six guys and eleven girls. It never struck any of us as strange, but apparently having a date counts at every other high school in America.

I had a great weekend, even though it wasn’t one of those milestone birthdays. It actually only hit me that I was a year older when I was punching in my weight and age on one of the ellipticals at the gym. I’m guessing twenty is going to be much scarier.

And now, back to frost advisories in October (!) and my classes.  Happy business as usual!

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