It was several years ago, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon when Ray and I were planning to paint our front steps. We had gotten out all the paint and brushes and were just reviewing our plan when two Game Loft kids appeared on our deck. Both kids had been Lofters for some amount of time but they had never been particularly close until on this day they had a common mission. They were united by their family problems and little else. Marta’s father was dying slowly at home and the family was consumed with worry and there was no time for anything else in their lives. Jonah was “couch-surfing” meaning that he had no real home but moved from relative to friend, sleeping on couches and moving on when he wore out his welcome. They were “different” from lots of kids in more stable situation but today they wanted to fit in. They wanted to go to the prom like “normal” kids and they had only one problem that they could see, the prom was that night.
At the Loft we form what we call an “alternate kinship group.” These two kids had come to us to be not only substitute parents but miracle workers. They knew that I have a sizeable collection of costumes in my closets and they wanted to borrow something that would pass as prom attire. Well, you know Cinderella had a fairy godmother who could be pressed into service at a moment’s notice but in real life the process is more arduous. I found Jonah a tuxedo and a shirt that was more-or-less pressed. Marta wanted to borrow a dress she had worn for our Pax Britannica game the month before. Jonah needed dress shoes and socks and Marta wanted something for her hair. It took all afternoon but we did it. I suggested they arrive after dark to make a good entrance (and to be less obvious about their ill-fitting clothes.)
They went to the prom. It wasn’t a disaster and it wasn’t the day that changed everything. It was just an ordinary prom date for two almost ordinary kids. For once that year they were doing something “normal.” They even had a pre-dance meal at McDonald’s with money Ray slipped to Jonah at the last minute.
The front steps didn’t get painted that year. I’m not sure what has happened to them in the years since then.