i originally wrote half of this post back in may, on allyson's fifteenth birthday. then, true to form, i lost my notebook. by the time i found it a few weeks ago, i'd weathered my bazillionth harddrive crash that left me without the iphone snapshots i took of allyson working on her incredible project. but now that it's opening, it's high time i share this with you-photos or not!
or how about i swipe one courtesy of Jeff Kan Lee, of the Press Democrat?
okay, i know i'm beating a dead horse here with the incredulity of the relentless march of time. but cut me some slack. my little niece allyson turns fifteen today. do you know what i was doing when i was fifteen?! why, of course, i was doing just what she is: making straight a's and nerding out much to the glee of my teachers.
this shouldn't be so shocking to me though, because in many ways, allyson already is mature beyond where i was at my quinceanera. for example, at fifteen, when people asked me what i wanted to do with my life, i withdrew into depression and turned the volume up on the 'love and rockets'. what's that you say? STILL the same response at 34?! i couldn't hear you over the music...
allyson, on the other hand, only feels uncertain as to if she should go for the harvard law degree before the parsons fashion education. but that uncertainty only lasts a moment before she reasons, "best to get the law degree out of the way FIRST." wise beyond her years? i have a theory about that. as an infant, she seemed already to be on a deadline--her brow always furrowed with concern. i'm pretty certain she had consciousness years before her actual birth. proof that even as a mere egg sitting in my sister's ovaries, she heard everything her mom said to my teenage self: as soon as she could say 'mama' she was furrowing that brow at me, pointing at my nosering and insisting i remove it. "why that there, auntie kitty kat? take that out!!"
i've always known she was a strong-willed, intelligent go getter. if she wants something, even if it depends on the help of someone else, she will do anything she can to make it happen. back when she was ten and starstruck, knowing i worked hi-profile events in new york city, she sent me a mini-sharpie key chain in the mail, to ensure i was ready to harvest autographs when her heroes showed up. and she called me weekly for updates on who i'd served.
but during this past visit she blew my mind. this is how my now fifteen year old niece spends her free time: after the straight a's, the soccer, running track, the girl has solicited donations of last season, samples and seconds from big label clothing companies and has spent hours and hours and weekends and evenings and her summer receiving them, organizing them and finally moving them from a donated storage space to a donated storefront, to give them away to girls in foster care programs getting ready to go back to school. seriously. jaw-dropping determinism and incredible charity from a girl wading through potentially the most narcissistic time of one's life.
during past visits i've taken allyson to the beach to collect seashells, to hike in the redwoods, or to the movies. this time, with four months time to spare before her project opened, she just wanted a ride to her storage unit and some help hanging up and inventorying her latest donations. it was probably my favorite three hours spent with her.
i feel honored to know allyson, let alone call her my niece. i see all of my sister and brother in-law's finest characteristics shining so strong in her. bravo, allyson.
here you can read a couple of real articles about her project:
the press democrat
the winsor times
threads for teens website
threads for teens blog
and of course, i can never resist a chance to remember holding these big neices and nephews in my arms...they may be growing up and taking over the world, but still i'm they're auntie kitty...
little allyson plotting to take over the world.