First of all, go read this.
(No, I mean it. I’ll know whether or not you did, so no lying.)
I adore her writing, and the post (which you read, right?) made me write again after a month off.
(Image from here.)
So once upon a time, I had a wedding.
It got out of hand.
I was 23, and not even a very confident or self-aware 23.
His mom was a seamstress. And a good one, too. She really, really wanted to make my dress.
I assumed it was because she was feeling a surge of familial generosity towards her new daughter in law. And I don’t doubt that that instinct was part of why she made the offer. But as would become glaringly apparent while planning the wedding, girlfriend had major control issues. If she made the dress, she would have complete control over one of the big memories that people would take away from the day.
I gave her some ideas, cut some pictures out of bridal magazines. She looked at them, thanked me for the input. And roundly ignored the majority of it.
If you look at the pictures, in the big, leather-bound album that rarely sees light, it’s sad. Not one part of the dress, the long and unbecoming lace sleeves, the awkwardly cut neckline, the body skimming fabric that serves to highlight my ample stomach (no I wasn’t knocked up, just fat) all explain the hollow look in my eyes. I felt horrible. I felt like I was ugly, and this dress was what I deserved, because let’s face it, no dress was ever going to make me pretty. I felt resigned.
When the day was mercifully over, I shoved the dress into a duffel bag. There were expectations as to how this “heirloom” would be preserved, so I dutifully took it to a cleaner, who claimed to be an expert at this sort of thing. I hoisted the bag onto the counter. He put on glasses, and looked disapprovingly down his nose through them, surveying the damage I’d manage to inflict on Italian silk. He seemed confident he could get the stains out, and knew exactly what steps to take, to make sure my daughter would wear it one day. I didn’t have it in me to tell him I wouldn’t wish that on my imaginary child.
I picked it up two days later. It was firmly packed into an enormous cardboard box, replete with layers of blue plastic, to protect it from the UV rays it would never see.
It stayed in my in-laws’ basement, undisturbed for several years.
One day, bored and curious, I opened the box.
I gently removed the dress. Tried it on.
In the intervening years, I’d lost 90 pounds. The dress hung. Comically so. I laughed till I cried.
I started up the stairs, calling to my mother in law to come and see this.
She looked. She gasped. And for some reason, I thought she’d laugh with me.
“Oh my GOD!! You took it OUT?!? What were you thinking?”
The laughter died, suddenly. I quietly unzipped it, folded it, laid it back in the box.
And as I closed the box, I realized.
The dress had never been mine.