After seeing Oz the Great & Powerful yesterday, my mind has been buzzing. I highly recommend that everyone see it & shell out the extra $5 for 3D (which is an endorsement I do not give lightly). I don’t want to drop any spoilers out of excitement, so I will leave my review at this: It’s an enchanting, visually stunning movie with a wonderful cast. Also, James Franco is the only man on the planet who can have a handlebar mustache & still be a stone cold fox. He’s THAT handsome…but I digress.
One of the realizations I have come to in my Oz-addled state of mind is the personal significance the ruby slippers have held for me throughout life. I have seemingly been fascinated by them since birth. They’re THAT much a part of my consciousness. On a surface level, the appeal is obvious; anyone who knows me knows that 2 of my favorite things in life are cute shoes & glitter. But, my love of the slippers runs much deeper than all that. The ruby slippers are so important to me because they symbolize the most unconditionally loving relationship I have had in life thus far (and maybe ever will).
Granny (my paternal grandmother & all time favorite person. ever.) introduced me to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I was very tiny & we watched it on a Saturday evening during a THUNDERSTORM (I know, perfect right?). Watching this movie with Granny is one of my earliest memories. It’s also one of my happiest & warmest. She sat in her recliner & I sat in her lap & we watched contentedly as the storm poured down on the tin roof above us.
I was completely enraptured by the movie. I loved Dorothy. I wanted a little basket with a Toto of my very own. I wished that I could wear a pretty dress & float around in a magic soap bubble like Glenda. The Cowardly Lion made me giggle. The Wicked Witch scared me, and the flying monkeys HORRIFIED me, but it was ok because Gran just snuggled me a little closer when they came on the screen. I loved everything about it. When the movie was over & Dorothy had finally made her way back home to Kansas, I distinctly remember telling Granny that I wanted ruby slippers one day. She told me “Allie, if you want them, I know you’ll have them. You’re going to get anything you put your little heart to.” She didn’t realize this, I’m sure, but that was one of the most important things anyone would ever say to me.
I knew my Granny loved me on a logical level because, duh, she’s my grandmother. But, that was the first moment in life I remember someone not only loving me, but having complete confidence in me. In that moment, she expressed total belief in my capabilities as a tiny human being. This was a constant in our relationship. When I got a good report card, Granny would be so proud that she usually got teary-eyed when I told her about it. She also supported any activity or interest I happened to stumble into. When I played basketball mediocrely, she was in the bleachers every Saturday afternoon. When I made blurry paintings with my crayola watercolors, she displayed them proudly, even when she couldn’t tell what exactly it was I’d tried to paint for her. When I briefly decided I wanted to be in a rock band as an adolescent, she encouraged me to practice my guitar while pretty much everyone else in my family told me to knock it off. Her belief in me & belief in whatever I tried to do was one of the first identifiable experiences with unconditional love I had.
Thursday (March 7) would have been my Granny’s 93rd birthday. She passed away 3 years ago, 7 days after her 90th birthday. My Gran was diagnosed with alzheimers in 1998. Watching a woman who meant the absolute world to me go from being a slightly absent minded, Rose Nyland-esque lady to a nursing home patient who no longer recognized me has been the greatest heartbreak of my life thus far. The ruby slippers are a physical manifestation of the magic this wonderful woman I lost brought into my life, of the magic that helped build me. They remind me of everything good & virtuous in the world. They remind me of the person I aspire to be; the kind of person who carries light in her pockets & shares it wherever she goes. The ruby slippers will always be a symbol of love because they were a gift given to me by the person whose love for me never failed.