The Dress isn’t black and blue. It’s white…or ivory…or champagne, with sequins, beads and sparkles, if you wish, and you only wear it once.
Yesterday I went shopping with my 3 daughters for The Dress; my middle daughter is getting married in October.
Nowadays, you start planning a year in advance. In the 1930s and ’40s, war brides got proposed to and married within a few days before their husbands shipped out. Times change, traditions evolve, and iconoclasts always do their own thing.
Marriage is not about the wedding, ultimately. It’s about a vow between two people and how they live that out over time. And no one can take that away from them legally, socially, or religiously. You can make it into a right or a rite, but it’s a vow and a life that will be lived despite systemic impositions. I celebrate that self-determination, that freely-willed commitment to working and learning and loving, united with a partner. It’s a brave thing. I don’t celebrate the consumerism so much. I really don’t enjoy shopping, especially for clothing. Me — I buy what I need at Goodwill, quickly and cheaply. Done. What I do enjoy is watching my daughters be their inimitable selves, and taking pictures. (That hasn’t changed in 30 years!) I brought my camera along and played observer…and I had a blast!
The mood yesterday was cheered by a significant thaw, sunshine and temperatures above freezing for the first time in months! And it had been a month since I’d seen my kids. No, not just ‘a‘ month – February. A rather cruel month in some ways. I crave the warmth of their smiles and hugs and laughter, and our togetherness.
But then comes The Dress, the one that makes a bride light up when she puts it on. The Dress is Mount Everest. Once you scale it and check it off the list, the accomplishment is elating. Congratulations! You have found The ONE!
This is the final picture…for now. There’s hair and veil and shoes and more to conquer. On her wedding day, my daughter will be absolutely radiant, I’m sure. It’s going to be beautiful. But I don’t know how many photos I’ll take that day. I’ll be busy dancing!
Thanks for coming along for the ride today!
I met in the street a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat worn, his cloak was out at the elbows, the water passed through his shoes, – and the stars through his soul. – Victor Hugo
Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins. – Native American proverb
The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases. –Carl Jung
What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed? – Michelangelo Buonaroti
Back in the days when I was keeping up a profile on OK Cupid, I was prompted to write about my favorite pair of shoes. I imagine the flirtatious fetishists out there were just salivating at the possibilities. I didn’t have to contemplate long before I realized that the footwear that best housed my feet and characterized my soul was my 30 year-old, steel-toed, suede waffle stompers. They had outlasted even my husband by that time. I got them in High School and wore them in on a trip with the Sierra Club. I still have them. They still fit, although I don’t wear them any more. I purchased new hiking boots a couple of years ago, before I went on a 4 week road trip with Steve. They are lighter and more comfortable even then my venerable pair. For a person who hates shopping for clothes or shoes or anything else besides food, the thrill of buying them was unexpected. I’d finally had a Female Consumer Moment!
(I don’t plan to have any more…please stop sending advertisements.)
Scholar & Poet Books is the online book business that Steve & I run from our home. We shelter books that we have rescued from Good Will, library sales, church sales and rummage sales. We clean them up and put them up for adoption on Amazon, Alibris, ABE Books and eBay. We find new homes for old standards, eclectic oddities, and arcane tutorials. Pulp fiction with vintage cover art, lots of spiritual topics, Christmas and cookbooks and CDs and children’s books…you name it, we probably have it or something related to it. So, if you’re in the mood for some cyber shopping today that supports the U.S. Post Office, a small business, and the non-electronic world of all natural BOOKS, you can browse our collection through this link. We have a 5-star rating, but neither of us has a Facebook account. If you like what you see and want to share the link with your friends, though, we would be very pleased! Happy hunting, bookworms!
Earlier this week, we sold a book called I Want That!: How We All Became Shoppers by Thomas Hine. The blurb about it reads:
“Shopping has a lot in common with sex,” Thomas Hine observes near the beginning of this wide-ranging exploration of the history and psychology of one of the most commonplace and important activities of modern life. “Just about everybody does it. Some people brag about how well they do it. Some keep it a secret. Most people worry, at least a little, about whether they do it right. And both provide ample opportunities to make foolish choices.”
Choosing and using objects is a primal human activity, and I Want That! is nothing less than a portrait of humanity as the species that shops. ”
Me? I hate shopping. My first reaction is always, “I don’t want that.” I have been thinking about getting a place in a more rural area of Wisconsin. Lying in the bathtub this morning, I was struck by a realization. Even if I pay cash for the real estate (from the sale of my former home), I still would have to pay property tax every year. I don’t want that.
I don’t want to be indebted; I don’t want to be obligated. I don’t want to be coerced or pressured into a relationship with any thing. I am beginning to feel a mounting sense of resistance. I’ve resisted getting a full time job for more than a year. I’ve resisted being a consumer, especially of clothing and beauty products. I’ve resisted Facebook. I’ve resisted television and movies. What is that about for me?
I am still struggling to be my own person, I guess. I am struggling to focus on the things that I do want in a manner that I like. I’m not ambitious. I am an observer, an appreciator, but not much of a go-getter. I resist marketing, for sure, but I don’t mind discovery. Maybe part of that is simple laziness. Maybe part of that is wanting the freedom to choose my relationships and responsibilities.
When I first read that comment about shopping having a lot in common with sex, I didn’t get it. I hate shopping. I love sex. I suppose my consistency is in insisting on having the freedom to be very particular about my engagement with both.
And now, for the photo portion of my blog. Choosing images and focusing where I want to, observing and appreciating has led me to these shots. If you discover you like them, great. I will not try to convince you to, though. (Do I sound testy? Okay, so be it.)
I hate shopping. It’s eerie to come home from a cozy, loving holiday weekend and find news that the larger world has sunk into madness. While I was enjoying a two hour Swedish massage in the comfort of my daughter’s home, others were dying to obtain merchandise. Fighting, heart attacks, assault with weapons and overnight exposure to the elements remind me of wartime conditions. Are we at war as consumers? Where’s my flak jacket?
Good grief. I’ve never celebrated Christmas in a very commercial way. As an Episcopalian, I tried to focus on the sacramental aspect of the holiday. I spent a lot of time in church, singing in the choir, rehearsing the Christmas pageant and taking my kids caroling to shut-ins. We made Advent wreaths, Advent calendars, wrote Advent letters to friends and family and donated money and gifts to charity in each others’ names. It was never about Stuff. As a kid, I made presents for my family. My kids made presents for each other. One year, Becca just wrapped stuff we already had. My toaster, with crumbs, surprised me into a fit of laughter. I could get sore about not being appreciated with a gift, but I took it as a joke on the whole scene.
Perhaps this is just my personality. I am gift-challenged. I’m not very good at giving or receiving them. It’s not one of my Love Languages. My husband truly enjoyed giving gifts. My eldest daughter is a very creative, inspirational gift-giver. They have a knack for finding grace and meaning in Things. I have trouble with that. I probably have an aversion to Things, actually, and definitely an aversion to shopping. When I was about 9 years old, my mother took me Back to School shopping at a huge discount department store called Zayre’s. It was August. It was hot and humid. Our station wagon had no air conditioning. The store was not in our village. It must have been somewhere in the Sahara. It took forever to get there, forever to get the job done, forever to get home. I was sick with heat stroke. I remember my mother putting me in the bathtub and bringing me bananas to eat. Sitting in the cool water, eating bananas was like heaven to me at that point. I couldn’t imagine why I had been made to endure the ordeal that brought me to that state.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about Christmas this year. I don’t go to church anymore. I don’t think about Jesus in the way I used to. I do love to celebrate with food and family and lots of love. I like appreciating others and being appreciated. I’m not sure how I want to embody that, though. I always write a letter to my children for them to read on Christmas morning, a letter of hope and pride and blessing, I guess. There are ideas I want to give, but not things. However, William Carlos Williams keeps whispering “No ideas but in things” and I keep trying to understand. Shall I give everyone trees this Christmas? Or soil? Or double helix shaped jewelry? The sun? Words?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you….The Universe! Applause, appreciation, celebration, Holiday. Think I can pull it off?