I have a beautiful dress with the tags still on it. I got on eBay for a mere $90. It’s grey with silver beading and fringe, flapper-style and dressy. I wouldn’t normally choose that shape, because I have relatively wide hips, so I like to have a tighter waist, but it’s beautiful, and it looked good the one time I tried it on.
I bought it, and plane tickets, in the spring of 2013, for the wedding of best friend since second grade. It was an “art deco” wedding, and my friend was doing mismatching (pick any dress you want as long as it’s short and grey) bridesmaids.
My parents also got plane tickets. My mom had family nearby, and I’m spoiled enough that they’re willing to fly to watch my (then) 2-year old.
It was to be an eventful early summer.
I had my voice surgery on June 24. I think it was July 3 that I was given clearance to talk one minute out of every ten (not all at once). I wasn’t allowed to talk if there was any background noise (among many other restrictions), so I was prepared to use paper or let Google translate to talk for me. (A bummer, but I had to have the surgery at the very beginning of the summer vacation in order to avoid taking a leave at work).
I had a D&C and polyp removal scheduled for July 5. Husband was driving me/watching me post-surgery, and mother-in-law was watching the little one.
On July 12, we’d fly out for the wedding (which was the next day).
What actually happened was that my husband went MIA on July 4, leaving me with a very confused two-year old and no choice but to speak.
I had to re-schedule the surgery for August, so I could find a new ride.
I did have a choice, but I didn’t go to my best friend’s wedding. I didn’t even tell my parents about it until the next week, because I was hoping he’d come back. I told them as soon as he took my call, said he’d come see his daughter, and answered my question about whether or not he wanted a divorce. To be honest, I was just overwhelmed in general. I hate crying in front of my parents, I was a complete wreck, and the last thing I needed was to add to my plate “fear of upsetting/worrying my parents.”
I know it was a selfish decision. There is no reasonable “but” to that, so I won’t bother trying to justify it to myself or the reader. If I could go back in time, I would have gone to the wedding. I hadn’t even seen her in three years.
The dress hung in the closet of my guest room for months.
I thought about getting rid of the dress during one of my cleaning kicks, but it’s pretty, and it seemed like a shame to never wear it. I kept it and moved it with me after I bought my own place in hopes that some day the Halloween theme at work would be flappers.
I forgot about it, though, until last week.
I got a rare piece of non-junkmail, in a gold envelope. It’s an invitation to a wedding party. (The wedding was last summer, in Italy, but they’re having a party/reception nearby next month). The theme is Gatsby, and guests are encouraged to wear boas and pearls.
That dress would be perfect for it. I had bought ridiculously high heels for the wedding I attended; they had come in handy when I dressed up as Elsa last Halloween, but I don’t want to be a 5′ 10′ every day. I was mentally matching up potential flats when it occurred to me that I didn’t know if I still had it. I checked the closet, and the memories hit me as soon as I had it in full view.
There are two objects that became reminder to me and symbolize the failure of my marriage. One is a glass, and the other is this dress.
I think I got the dress a few weeks before he told me he was unhappy. He was well into his emotional affair by this point–I think it was a couple weeks after he told me that he was unhappy. I don’t know if he had yet started to act shady (snapping his laptop closed when I moved over to put my head on his shoulder or snuggle), but nothing ominous was on my radar at that point. I wasn’t getting that sick feeling that I got when he cheated on me in the early days, and I had no idea that things weren’t going to be okay, so I didn’t pick up on the signs that he was hiding something.
I tried it on, and he took pictures to send my friend for her approval. My daughter kind of threw a fit during the photo session, because she wanted the camera. I ended up photoshopping her from one of those pictures into that meme-pic of Donald Sutherland from Invasion of the Body Snatchers for my FB and Twitter cover photos.
I don’t remember exactly what words he used, but he basically said I looked sexy in it. I remember that we didn’t have sex that day. I may have just reacted by being awkwardly uncomfortable–I do remember being surprised about it, because I didn’t think I looked sexy at all. I may or may not have realized that he was telling me that he wanted to have sex; he kind of expected me to be a mind-reader.
Even if I did remember the details, I wouldn’t feel right to tell people them, and it’s the kind of embarrassment that I actually keep to myself.
I don’t think I realized it was a major turning point for him until my therapist mentioned “the dress.” Apparently he had told her about this scene in his individual session. I wonder what he told her, and what version of the story he told the other woman. Or maybe he didn’t tell her, because he didn’t want to deal with her being upset that he wanted to have sex with someone other than her. He is very devoted, and I am certain that he felt guilty every time he had sex with me toward the end because it was being unfaithful to her.
I’m being straightforward, not sarcastic. It’s just an educated guess based on what I knew about him.
I have been looking for months for an excuse to buy a new dress and get done up. I can always cite this excuse if I don’t end up wearing the dress that would be thematically perfect for a Gatsby wedding.
I am happy to be invited, because I’ve realized during this little hiatus from going out that what I need in my life is not to fulfill a quota for going out, but to feel connection to other humans and to always have something to look forward to. I’m looking forward to this. My fellow department members at work are invited, and I’ll do great regarding my social anxiety as long as my closest work girlfriend can go. I’ll probably even dance.
Well, hopefully. I’ll try.
I’ve assigned, apparently, enough power to this dress that I’m debating whether or not to wear it to the wedding.
I still love weddings, and I think this one is extra special because it’s a second marriage for both of them. The bride’s ex cheated on her with a teenager, and the groom is a widower whose older daughter fixed them up. When I congratulated my friend on her engagement, she said one of the only hopeful things that people have said to me when I’m feeling discouraged about finding love:
“There is a lid for every pot.”
I don’t think that’s necessarily going to apply to me, but it’s an idea that I can accept from her because she has also had to come to terms with the fact that she spent years with the “wrong” guy.
Whether I allow a happy ending to this dress story or use it as an excuse to go shopping, I think I’ll have a wonderful time at the party.