All Dressed Up

JaneIt’s always at this time of year I catch myself switching from secretly looking at pictures of wedding dresses to covertly flipping through pictures of red carpet gowns. Oh sure, I pretend not to care about all that garbage, but let’s face it: I love a good dress.

Growing up, it was so fun to play dress up! Even today, as a culture we’re obsessed with it. But why? Why not?

Adornment. It’s got the word “adore” in it. We all want to be adored, don’t we? It’s tough to admit, and yet I have to admit I do. None of this humility BS—I want to decorate myself in feathers or sequins or pearls and run dancing into the sunset!

But what happens when you get there? I don’t know. I wonder, if Graham and I ever get married—will I still look at pictures of wedding dresses? Will I still watch “Say Yes To The Dress”?

Do the actresses who parade the red carpet the Academy Awards still long for the next time? Once you get there, once you are the muse, what do you long for? I wonder, if I ever got there whether it would be enough. Or if I would be compelled to want something else.

I hope if I ever do get there, that I won’t just want a bigger, flashier, more expensive adornment. I hope that if I ever get there I’ll want the opposite—the gift of silence: nothing but trees, sky, and the crashing of waves upon the shore.

But that’s probably bogus and romantic of me to imagine. Probably I’d want the dress.

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Feburuary 13th.

So here it is, Valentine’s Eve again. Or as Barney Stinson calls it, “Desperation Day.” Thanks, Barney. And it’s not that I’m lonely, I mean I do have someone. He’s just not here. And I know I’m not going to see him, we agreed not to do these “stupid commercial holidays.”

So why am I sitting here, staring at the DVD cover to my copy of When Harry Met Sally, not even remotely fooling myself?

He didn’t say it, but I know he’s spending the day with his wife. As I suppose he should. If I was his wife, or a wife at all for that matter. . . I’d expect to see my husband on Valentine’s Day. Even if I knew he was a high-fallutin’ intellectual elitist snob who wouldn’t know romance if it kicked him in the face.

I shouldn’t call him. I shouldn’t call. And I won’t. But it’s not going to keep me from wishing he would.  “I think I should hear her out,” he said. That’s what he said to me the last time I brought it up. “She wants to talk to me about us. . . and I think I should hear her out.”

That was six months ago. How have I become this passive? What did she say? Did she even say anything? Or maybe the whole point is that there’s nothing to say. It will either happen or it won’t. He’ll either leave her or she doesn’t. And I’ll either sit here, or. . .

Or what? Sit here? Is there an alternative?

I clearly need to make one.

Graham.

Is this it?

Sometimes when we argue I can almost feel myself breaking away for good. Like I’m a bungee cord stretched to the breaking point and about to snap. And sometimes, I truly believe I’m going to do it, too. Snap. Leave. Move on.

That’s usually about the time I arrive home from fighting with him, or hang up the phone, or delete the offensive email.  I look up and see myself in my apartment, and suddenly I feel so trapped. Stuck. Staked in place. For what am I really? Not the bungee cord, no. I’m not flexible, or strong, or liable to break away. I’m the figure tied to the end of the cord, and he’s the one holding the string. I can see him, standing on my rooftop, stringing me along like a puppet as I bounce up and down at his request. And I bounce up and down, peeking in the windows of my neighbors apartments as I go, wondering if their lives are like this too. And all the while I hope he’ll reel me in and that when I get to my roof, it will just be him waiting there.

No strings, no games, just him.

And then, just when I give up all hope, just when I think he’s going to polish his ring and head home, his hand reaches down and pulls me up to the ledge.

And there he leaves me, hanging on for dear life, clinging to the ledge. It’s the perfect vantage point to see him turn around and walk away. But not before he clips my bungee cord to the chimney.

The Dream Dancer

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