Honeymooners, with this 5oth (!) post I’m going to take you back, just a few months: to days gloriously illuminated with sunshine, late nights of tipsy swaggering with loud laughter spilling out onto sidewalks, and a firm belief that the good times will never end. The middle of summer, when all is golden in the sky, a time ripe for falling into a new little something.
I bought the berry-hued confection of a dress for a paltry few dollars from Salvation Army on a sweltering day in early July. I’d seen it and thought it was pretty, so I absentmindedly put it in my cart. I’d been looking for a couple of particular items and came up empty with them, so I was feeling slightly bereft despite leaving with something in hand. When I got home, I promptly hung the dress up in my closet and forgot about it for a couple of weeks. The morning of July 16th, the first day I wore it, my other options were already worn and/or trampled on the floor, so it was a last resort. I paired it with high-heeled sandals and a matching flower print bag with shades of red and pink, given to me as a Christmas gift nearly three years ago and still in frequent use…
I noticed her weeks before we exchanged so much as a hello. I figured she was new since I hadn’t seen her before, and briefly wondered where she’d be sitting if she could hack it long enough…but while on the clock I’m off in my own world, and normally don’t socialize even with those seated nearest me. Later I found out she’d been told I was quiet, and had taken it as a challenge. On a day after she made her home at the desk next to mine, my eyes accidentally met hers and I, the oft-assumed reclusive introvert, had no choice but to engage in conversation. To my slight surprise, we immediately hit it off and I allowed myself to imagine trading more than a few sentences a month with her, unlike past occupants of her chair. Then, the day I begrudgingly donned my strawberry frock, this happened:
“I like your dress. You look really cute!” Or something like that. I can’t remember exactly, now.
Cue my skin chilling and then catching fire and my heart pounding against my ribs. I immediately wondered what was up with that reaction, but I didn’t have time to do anything other than fling an abashed “Thank you” in her general direction. I’m pretty sure I valiantly tried to avoid eye contact lest she see my face, which in that moment was the epitome of spazzing.
That night, ensconced in the fluorescent overhead light of my dressing room and dithering over what to wear to work the next day, I asked myself, “Why am I bothering? When did I start caring so much?” I thought of when she’d noticed me, and the heat instantly resurfaced…
Okay. I had a crush on her. Okay.
Wait. Breathe. Chill the fuck out.
What do I do about it? I wondered. (“Well, look at your life. Look at your choices. There’s the traffic cone orange Nicole Miller with the cap sleeves and sweetheart neckline…the ’60s vintage mint green shift with the matching cropped jacket…”) Really, there was only one thing I could do without eventually driving myself up a wall. I had to forget about it.
Two days later, teeth chattering with imaginary cold as my fingers flew over my laptop keyboard, I asked her to come out with me and a couple of other friends. A night full of the not-so-usual grew more interesting with a mutual acknowledgement of each other’s cuteness while pressed up to a mob scene of a bar waiting for a batch of whiskey-and-green-teas. In the wake of that honesty, as the weeks flew by and we found time to be alone, bright, carefree laughter and sentiment bubbled up between us easily, and often.
So much for that “only thing I could do”.
As the days grew shorter and the nights colder, I began to haul out my sweaters and pack up my shorts and sleeveless tops. The dress that I blushed like a schoolgirl in on that July day and was planning to pack away was crumpled in disarray on top of my bed. The light of autumn, casting everything in amber right before it dims and gives way to night, streamed through my window blinds to gild that strawberry bubblegum pink. And my mind changed.
Instead of consigning it to the musty shadows of my hall closet shelf, I put it back on a hanger to stand out as a graceful, light reminder of summer amidst my thrifted, somber-hued cable knits, merino wools, and silks.
And though the sun has dipped down into seeming oblivion much earlier these days, and things are quieter, there is still utter magic in every moment to be had. What the dress started didn’t end once the season did.