It was 20 years ago today that I went to my one and only prom and for the last 20 years, I've rolled my eyes whenever anyone has asked me if I ever fondly look back on my prom. Um, no. As a matter of fact, it really was one of the most bizarre days of my teen years.

I graduated from high school in three years, rather than four and that meant I only got one shot at prom. I may be a full grown adult, but I'm still working on making peace with the fact that my prom didn't unfold as I wanted it to. Not even remotely.

I genuinely feel for kids going to prom these days because when I went, there weren't cell phones and digital cameras and there certainly wasn't pressure to put on a show for social media. Thankfully, I only have a couple photos of my prom and each of them was taken on a disposable camera which I had developed at the local film store, so I have the only copies. As far as I know, this is the one and only photo of me at prom on the Internet.

Traci Taylor

The guy I was hoping would ask me to prom ended up asking one of my friends instead, so I felt like a total loser because I was dateless. I wanted so badly to have a date to prom, but I was such a tomboy and all of the guys in my life simply saw me as a fun girl to hang out with. My guy friends and I would go caving, hiking, and canoeing almost every weekend and that definitely made me one of the guys- not a girly girl (although my mom tried to make me one by insisting I wear dresses with shorts underneath -- yep, that definitely upped my cool factor) and as far as I know, none of the guys I hung out with were ever "interested" in me.

But wait, there's more! The day of my prom was also the day that my mom got re-married (happy 20th anniversary, mom and dad!), to the man I now call my dad. I went to my parent's wedding and reception and then when they left for their honeymoon, I got changed into my prom dress in a cramped bathroom stall at the church. Since my mom had already left and we were dirt poor and didn't have money for someone to do my hair and makeup, my aunt helped me the best she could. My bangs though! Why did every adult in my life want me to suffer through the most awkward years of my life by insisting I needed to have bangs that would curl almost immediately after being straightened?

Traci with her mom on her mom's wedding day. Credit: Traci Taylor

For some silly reason, I was adamant that I needed a corsage even though I didn't have a date, but my mom refused to allow me to have one that I could wear on my wrist. She made it very clear that if I wore a corsage on my wrist I might dance a little too close to a boy and so, I was only allowed to have a corsage that was pinned to the front of my dress. I guess my mom's thinking was that I wouldn't want to crush the flower and so I wouldn't dance too close to a boy. That's actually pretty funny! Funny that my mom really thought anyone would ask me to dance with them!

The icing on my prom story is that I was dropped off at my prom in...the clunky, running on its last leg, two-tone brown church van. Maybe the creepy church van was just one more part of my mom's master plan to keep me from getting too friendly with any boys that night. Well played, mom. It worked!

For most of my life, I've hated this time of year because of prom season and my strong negative feelings about the whole thing. The only thing that didn't bother me was my dress.  I rocked my dress and ended up wearing it to fancy events up until a few years ago. My mom convinced me to get a classic dress that I could re-wear after prom and I'm thankful that she did. My dress was sleeveless and long with a black bottom and white top that had a beaded overlay.  I recently found the dress while going through storage and was flooded with memories. The dress smells a little funky from being in a box, but other than that, it's in pristine condition. I've actually held on to it all of these years because I'm hoping that maybe I'll be blessed with a daughter who might want to wear it for some occasion one day.

Traci Taylor

Really, though, the best part of prom was the after prom party at the local bowling alley where I was able to change into casual clothes and hang out with my friends for a bit. I'm so glad I'm not a prom-going teen now with all of the over the top expectations and bullying and promposals. This is one of the few times that being 38 sounds so much more appealing than being 18.

Even though my parents getting married the same day as my prom was catastrophic to my teenaged self, it turned out to be one of the biggest blessings in my life. Because of their marriage, I have three additional siblings, each of whom I love immensely and for the first time in my life, I was given a man who I was proud to call my "father."

Traci at her after prom party. Credit: Traci Taylor