“A hunter green velvet dress I made myself for my senior prom. It was beautiful. I was so proud. My boyfriend drove a Toyota with no air-conditioner. It was June in Florida—hot and humid. The fancy restaurant where we had reservations was 40 minutes away. He opened my door and I got out and he stopped me, staring at the back of my dress. “What happened to your dress?,” he stammered. I looked behind me and I was mortified by what I saw. There, imprinted in the velvet, was the vinyl seat pattern from the car ride. You see, heat, pressure and moisture irrevocably flattens the velvet. The backs of my thighs AND my butt cheeks were perfectly imprinted in shiny splendor on the back of my dress. After dinner, I knelt on the car seat during the ride back to the dance, but it was already too late. I spent the entire evening dancing in the corner of the gym, trying to hide my back.”
“In May of 2005, my husband Cliff and I were both nominated for awards at the Omaha Community Playhouse Awards ceremony. I had recently lost weight and had NOTHING that fit that was remotely appropriate. I went shopping in my sister Mary’s closet with Cliff in tow. When I tried on this breathtakingly beautiful silk dragonfly dress, Cliff’s eyes lit up. Decision made. I rarely feel attractive, but that night I felt beautiful, especially so in the reflection of my husband’s eyes. A year later, my husband lost his life to cancer. Whenever I feel particularly average, I remember this evening, this dress and my husband’s love.”
New Year’s has long been my favorite holiday. When I was in college my friends and I decided to go out to celebrate. I talked my mother into making me a fancy party dress for one occasion. We shopped for the pattern and fabric together. I chose a deep green velvet for the bodice and a gorgeous dark red and green poppy covered print for the skirt. It was a satin that was a bubble skirt—it poofed out from my body. I topped it with rhinestone jewelry, another favorite. We went out for dinner and a party, it was wonderful. I felt elegant and beautiful.
“Material objects have never really held any sort of emotional significance for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like clothes and I like to feel good in clothes, but when it comes to important moments in my life they have never been particularly memorable. I can recall certain memories perfectly, but I couldn’t tell you what I was wearing or carrying on me at the time. The truth is, the moments themselves and being able to make memories is what’s important to me. Being able to afford to travel during the best and most freeing years of my life because I don’t invest a lot into my wardrobe (it was just how I was raised) is what’s special to me. I’ve been very lucky to see a lot of places and sure, I’ve bought some nice things during these trips—like the best pair of jeans I’ll probably ever own—but I can remember the smile on someone’s face during a conversation more than I can remember what shirt I had on. Clothes come and go from my life, which is fine with me. I’m still happy.”