When I started this blog almost a year ago*, I never would have thought I’d be posting photos of myself in dresses on a semi-regular basis. Heck, a year ago, I barely even wore dresses**.
But then I did. Wear dresses, that is, and post photos of myself wearing them. And the most surprising thing was that even when I posted such photos with the aim of making fun of myself, many of you were not only interested in seeing the clothes but were generous and kind in your comments about them.
So when I put on a new dress the other night for dinner with my family, I remembered that many of you had expressed interest in seeing more of such dresses. This particular item, funnily enough, had been hanging in my cupboard for two years prior to The Wearing. And it has a story.
First, the dress:
Yes, that is indeed a washed-out Santa Garden Gnome next to me.
Now, the story:
In 2008, at the end of my exchange year at UVA, I was madly studying for the five exams I had to sit in the space of one week. My last exam was 19th Century Poetry and Prose, for which the set reading was a 400+ page behemoth of a humongous textbook that could’ve done serious damage as a weapon (have you got the point about this being a really big book?), filled to the brim with poems.
Unfortunately, I’d barely read any of the poems in the textbook, and we could be tested on any of them (not just what the professor had covered in class).
I remember the day before that test clearly. I spent 12 hours straight sitting on my bed, back aching, feverishly reading the textbook cover-to-cover. I remember eating strange Shirataki noodles for lunch with naught but cheese on top, and I remember my suitemate-friend shrieking as she dropped the enormous pan of brownies she’d baked for a still-life art project on our living room.
The next day, as I stood waiting for the trolley to take me to my exam, I received a phone call from another close friend of mine, Dionna. I was planning to spend the day after my exam with Dionna, as she was leaving Charlottesville the day after that. Unfortunately, Dionna had just fallen down some stairs and hurt her ankle, which meant that her dad was arriving any minute to take her home.
I was distraught, thinking that I wouldn’t get to hug her good-bye because my stupid exam was three hours long. An exam which I was surely going to fail because everyone knows you can’t read 400 pages of poetry in one day and then be able to correctly identify the names and authors of five of these poems just from a couple of excerpted lines. And then extrapolate and analyse the meanings of another five poems, again simply from excerpts. And so on.
Yet somehow, magically, I aced that exam. I recognised, I extrapolated, I analysed. And after the exam, I managed to make it to Dionna in time to say goodbye her before her running-late father arrived.
I helped her pack.
I gave her a hug.
I made a joke about being invited to her wedding (she was single at the time), then turned around to see her father standing in the doorway with a confused look on his face.
And Dionna gave me the above dress, which she’d found while op-shopping but had never worn.
Two years after the study-cramming, and poetry exam, and the goodbye, I wore the dress. I remember the exam, I remember Dionna, and I remember her generosity.
And I miss her.
* Holy moly. It’s been almost a year? Weird.
** Clarification: I mean that 99% of the time I wore pants. I didn’t mean that I used walk around with a dress “barely” on in the sense of it dangling off of one shoulder, or being not zipped up, or revealing jiggly bits, or something to that effect.