**Written a day before the fall. The third picture below might have given me a clue...**
I saw it hanging on the rack. Begging me to touch it. The fabric was coarse. Thick. Woven. Knit. Stretched into patterns of zigzags and angles. Zigzags and angles that took me on a journey.
Come. Come along.
I was an unsure and unsettled child of the 70s that year. Middle school mess in my brain - you know what I mean? - and such a bundle of insecurities. We were in a new school. The first class to enter the brand new building that was no longer a junior high, but a true middle school. Everything was shiny. The halls sparkled and the desks smelled of polish. The gym floor unscratched and the lockers freshly painted. Orange. Yes, orange. Our school colors.
But I didn't fit in. I wanted to go back to the 6th grade where I'd been with the same friends in the same neighborhood for all those years. And now here I am thrown in the midst of kids from three different elementary schools, tall orange things with confusing combinations and a retired Army man for my principal. He would announce at the end of each day, "You may disperse from the building," in a very scary voice.
I wasted no time dispersing.
But what does this have to do with a zigzag dress on a rack?
I am getting to that part.
I was without a doubt the skinniest kid in the entire school. My hair weighed more than my entire body and well...I looked like a stick. I hated science. Math changed from real math to "the new math" which changed me from an A student to a sinking B and falling. Of course, it's changed back to "real" math now. I wanted to write poems in English class, not conjugate verbs. School was no longer fun and neighborhood cozy.
And that's where grandmother comes in.
She insisted... InSISTED that I wear them. Hard floors or not. I had to wear those heels. Up stairs, down stairs, up down down up. Little bitty size 5 blue heels that click-clacked on the new floors drawing attention to my bony self...attached to the bottom of "the look" she and I cultivated in the department store you see, the look that would help me gain my confidence outside of music class and not feel like the girl from the sticks (pun intended) whose family didn't have all that money for rich clothes I saw parading in the new school that year. Mean girls. They were there too.
But grandmother knew what I needed. And she saw to it that I had two new dresses and matching accessories to start off my year. Skinny or not, I felt rich in them. Warm. Loved.
So this weekend when I went shopping for fall clothes, I saw the dress
and there she was. Standing with that crooked smile and a cigarette hanging out of her mouth waiting for me outside the dressing room door with a look of delight as I modeled for her. I would give almost anything to relive that day.
I bought bright colors. Reds, yellows, deep blues, pinks and one orange, yellow and white tie-dyed bold top you see above. Things that wrapped around with butterfly sixties sleeves and two pair of not-so-sensible shoes for not-so-sensible times.
Grandmother knew what she was doing.