I bought a dress today. Mbot was at school learning about Charlie Brown falling off the Mayflower (I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of this cryptic retelling of what happened this afternoon within the walls of Montessori) and Gbot was drinking himself to sleep–a promising sign, because he recently has decided he has no patience with shopping. I admit, he gets it from me. But at least I don’t holler in the aisles of Home Depot.) I steered the MidgetMobile down the I-10 and up the 101 to a Nordstrom Rack that recently opened thirty minutes away (insert trumpet blasts here).
Gbot, beatifically comatose in the stroller, and I swept into the store. I picked out socks, tights, and a pair of sunglasses needed since August, when mine were used as an ice skate across the concrete floor, and then headed for the fancy stuff via the shoes. Tried on a pair of strappy sandals: Nope, still can’t walk in heels. Then hit the dresses. I managed to find five items that looked like a) they might fit, b) they wouldn’t make me look twenty pounds heavier and c) weren’t hideous.
I needed a dress because on Friday evening, two friends of the family are reaffirming their wedding vows, made some thirty years ago, and I have nothing to wear. A reaffirmation of wedding vows after over ten thousand chances to do something regrettable every day is a remarkable and lovely event. It is not about me. But being confident and comfortable in your clothes makes it easier to forget about yourself and concentrate on the important stuff.
Although I weigh the same as I did in my pre-Bot days, the short skirts in my closet are somehow too short (were they always?) and my old dresses no longer seem to fit around the ribcage. And so, stroller draped with cut-price couture, I wheeled the slumbering Gbot into a dressing room.
Dress #1 had sausage casings for arms. Dress #2 was…huh. Cute. And comfortable. It was also marked down 60% and casual enough to be worn with boots, which would allow me to sidestep the walking-in-heels problem. Dress #3 made me look three days postpartum. Dress #4 had been designed for someone with breasts just under her chin. Dress #5, a black Ralph Lauren sheath, turned me into a waistless Doric column. The ruthless lighting deepened the creases in my face and glinted off a rogue gray hair.
I bought the socks, the tights, the sunglasses, and dress #2. I was out of the store in forty minutes. Gbot was just waking up.
I’m still feeling inordinately pleased, in a way I don’t when I spend a lot of time and money. I feel like I’ve accomplished something exceptional. And maybe in some way, I have, in addition to completing a shopping expedition without the G-Bomb going off. It is no small feat to attend a dress-up occasion comfortable and confident, especially when you don’t get a lot of practice. I never could have done it thirty years ago, even with a narrower ribcage and a creaseless face.
Thirty years: something lost, something gained. For better or for worse?