Let me tell you a story about a dress.
I love stories. Who doesn’t? Not only do they entertain us, but they help us make sense of ourselves and the world around us. Beyond that, I’m also endlessly fascinated by arranging words into a bright light of understanding.
In Nora and Delia Ephron’s play, Love, Lost and What I Wore, clothes tell the story of a woman’s life – and give it meaning. Based on Ilene Beckerman’s book, the play tells the life stories of several women through their memories of their wardrobes.
The play harnesses the power of the familiar. Shirts, dresses, boots, the color black, rules about length and season, Eileen Fisher – every woman has similar if not identical experiences as the storytellers on stage.
My story is about my wedding dress, bought straight off the rack for $100. Over the years, I’ve come to think of it as the ugliest dress ever. It’s true that it could have outdone Cinderella at the ball: wide loop skirt, ornate bodice, BIG organza sleeves. It was as elegant as a Tiffany’s diamond bracelet. But…I was more of a silver bracelet girl – costume, that is.
Actually, I was more of a gold girl, and diamonds didn’t hold my fascination. I was too practical. Why spend all that money on a big rock? I wanted a house. So, I chose one-third of a carat, and for years, my husband has been disappointed by this frugal choice. He has promised to replace it with something larger. For reasons that will become clear, I’m holding him to that promise this year.
As proud as I was of that dress at the time, I did take a pair of scissors to it. I snipped off the large bow from the back of the dress. It was a little too much for me, even in my love-struck state. I’d forgotten completely about the bow, until I saw it again.
No, I didn’t find it tucked into a corner of some lost box of wedding memorabilia. I saw it on the big screen. It was worn by the bride in the wedding scene (post-credits) in the comedy, Napoleon Dynamite. Yep, that’s how awful my dress was. It was meant to be a prop in a comedy movie and laughed at.
We laugh a lot in this house; we manage to find the humor in a lot of things. Some of my favorite vacation photos are of the boys, on top of the Dublin Tour bus, laughing and goofing around with each other. These shots were taken right after we’d sat in a Dublin police station. Which was right after we’d searched through bushes around the Dublin Writer’s Museum. Which was right after we’d gotten on the Dublin Tour bus and gotten right off. Which was right after I discovered my wallet was missing. Along with my cash. And my credit cards. And my airport lounge pass. And my wedding rings.
Which was a real bummer.
The truth is that I wasn’t all that upset. My jokes that “Now I’ll get a bigger rock,” have led people to say I planned this. (I didn’t; the rings were in my wallet by mistake. Really.)
This photo of my boys is the heart of it all. We’re together, safe, unharmed, happy. All that stuff – the ugliest wedding dress, the tiny diamond, the missing wedding band – it’s all just stuff. And we’ve survived it all.
Happy Valentine’s Day.