Wednesday, July 13, 2011

navy with white polka dots

During the early weeks of my internship in London, we were wondering around somewhere close to the British Museum when it started to rain. Not unusual. It is London after all. Huddled under an umbrella on the sidewalk, I noticed a woman across the street in a very sharp navy coat with white polka dots.

I'm not sure what it is about this particular print. I like it a lot. Some might point out that it's a classic that keeps getting reinvented with each new fashion trend. That is true.

My mother owned a navy dress with white polka dots. It's one of my earliest memories of her. I must have been quite young since she still towered over me like a giant. She was putting on her earrings, wearing the dress. I was flitting about. Into the closet crowded with clothes (where did adults keep all their toys?) behind the sliding mirror door. Back out to look up at her. She must have been getting ready to go some where. I was going to be left behind. I needed to get her attention. I hid in the closet again.

This took place a year or perhaps two before I entered kindergarten. School means being away from my mother for many hours every day. It means being surrounded by strangers. Strange adults. Other children. Not my brother. But school has not yet begun for me. I am still too young for school.

This is my first memory of my mother as a person, as a separate, distinct being and not the undifferentiated maternal force surrounding my tender young life entirely.

Freud would mutely note the separation anxiety. He would also have much to say, I suspect, about my fondness for this pattern. I saw a young woman wearing it a few days ago as I commuted home by tube. It was slightly less than knee length; short sleeves. It had a modest collar, squared in lacy white. And I've noticed a similar dress hanging in the window of a charity store near where I work. I have passed it many times, admired the print, the low neckline and buttoned front. It makes me happy.

I could fall in love with a girl who wore a dress like that.

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