In Flight Magazine - - IN THIS ISSUE - Nicky Furniss

A cou­ple of weeks ago, I found my­self hap­pily wan­der­ing around the beau­ti­ful and his­toric gar­dens of Vergele­gen Wine Es­tate in Som­er­set West. As well as ad­mir­ing the 300-year-old cam­phor trees and the blos­som­ing camel­lias, I was also en­joy­ing watch­ing a group of cou­ples laugh­ing and pos­ing along the path­ways.With heels, up dos and glit­tery dresses, tuxe­dos and shiny shoes, they could only be Grade 12 stu­dents on their way to their Ma­tric Farewell.

It made me think of my own Ma­tric dance, and boy, does it seem like a lot has changed since then.The girls I saw that day were ar­rayed in a mul­ti­tude of colours in sparkly and shiny fab­rics, while we – be­ing 90s kids – stuck mainly to black, white and blue – and in vel­vet, no less. I am happy to say, though, that my mid­night blue vel­vet hal­ter­neck is ap­par­ently back in fash­ion ac­cord­ing to a younger col­league – thank good­ness fash­ion moves in cy­cles!

My mother made my dress – I still re­mem­ber her com­plain­ing about how hard the vel­vet was to sew – and be­cause of that I got to tai­lor-make ev­ery inch of it. Many of my friends’ mums made their dresses too, or en­gaged the help of friends who could sew to help them. Nowa­days the dresses are still hand­made, but more likely by a de­signer, and at a sig­nif­i­cantly higher cost.

There also weren’t any limos or vin­tage cars fer­ry­ing us to the dance in my day – other than your out­fit, no one cared what you ar­rived in.

Friends have told me that the amount they now spend on Ma­tric dances – es­pe­cially for girls – is eye-wa­ter­ingly high.Ap­par­ently one 12th Grader was once heard re­mark­ing about her de­signer dress (which prob­a­bly cost the same as my very first clapped-out stu­dent car), that she wanted it to be per­fect – af­ter all, she could get mar­ried more than once but she would only ever have one Ma­tric dance!

What hasn’t changed, how­ever, is that feel­ing of ex­cite­ment and op­ti­mism that the end of high school brings, and that the night of the Ma­tric dance cel­e­brates. I re­mem­ber be­ing so filled with the won­der of pos­si­bil­i­ties and so ex­cited about what the fu­ture held – se­cure in the knowl­edge that it would be amaz­ing.Thank good­ness for the op­ti­mism of youth, oth­er­wise the world would be a much grumpier place!

It is a pity we lose that op­ti­mism and wide-eyed hope as we move through life, and that we are so in­tent on rush­ing onto the next thing that we don’t stop to think about all we have at the present mo­ment.

I had a con­ver­sa­tion with friends about Ma­tric dances the other day and one said: “I was so young and beau­ti­ful and skinny back then but be­cause I thought I was ugly and fat, I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate it.” We all nod­ded in sym­pa­thy – be­cause we had all done it our­selves. Even now I look back at my­self five, ten, 15 years ago and wish I had en­joyed be­ing me a lit­tle bit more than I did.

The Ma­tric stu­dents I saw that day were all young and beau­ti­ful and filled with joy and op­ti­mism. I hope they stay that way for as long as pos­si­ble and that life doesn’t knock them around too much. And if it does – be­cause we all know it will – that they will re­main grate­ful to be who they are and to have what they do at that mo­ment.

To quote one of my favouriteTV char­ac­ters of all time, Fer­ris Bueller:“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Don’t miss it!

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