Sometimes when the baby is napping, and there’s nothing good on TV, and my book is in the other room, and my Twitter feed is stale, I open up the hall closet, where my dresses share space with his suits, and slip into my old life.
The dress I wore–a brown halter–to a birthday party, the night before we took our first trip to Greece together. I was tan and full of excitement over the possibilities unfolding before me. More than the actual party, more than leaving with him and getting into a cab and thinking we’ll sleep on the plane, I remember the walk to the bar, by myself. Supremely confident in the dress and my own skin. That girl made it all happen. She may have dressed just this side of slutty, but I owe so much to her.
My rehearsal dinner dress. Britney Spears was photographed in it a few weeks later but it will always be mine. Bought after a few too many glasses of champagne, which helped me from seeing a few too many dollar signs. Purple (new, for me), A-line and demure enough that my mother wouldn’t spend the entire dinner motioning for me to lift it up. I hugged him hard in that dress, right before we went our separate ways for the night. Someone captured that hug in a photo and whenever I look at it, I feel a shock of emotion.
We had so many weddings that summer, and I wasn’t complaining. I like wedding cake and I like dancing and I like making kissy faces at the camera after a few glasses of wine. My favorite was a blue halter, with pleats that fanned as I twirled. I hadn’t been as disciplined with my diet, my own wedding photos having already been taken. But I still had the glow – from the wine, from him making me laugh, from turns on the dance floor. That summer will remain one of the best of my entire life. Yet for some reason, whenever I put on that blue dress, consider it as an option, I decide against it.
It was my go-to dress for open casting calls. I remember feeling powerful, trading in the day-to-day jeans and jersey cotton for something sleek and sophisticated. I was a decision-maker and I wanted to feel like one. I earned that dress in every way – from the price tag to the slim fit (having recently taken up running) to how it spoke volumes about my position. No longer the coffee-fetcher or the check-in girl. He visited me in New Orleans and that night we went to dinner at a legendary restaurant. I felt–for the first time in a while, after a second month of not getting a positive on the test–sexy and competent.
The first dress bought specifically for this post-baby body. This body that will never be what it was. When friends ask me, I don’t really know how to explain it. Different. You’ll see. Not terrible. Different. I wore it for the first time in Newport. I missed my baby but appreciated a throwback to how it was when it was just us two. Wine and dancing and no (baby human) alarm clock the next morning. The other dresses told my story before. This one–altered and sexy but not trying to be anything I’m not–tells the story of now.
I can revisit the past whenever I want to. It’s just a few steps and an extra-long nap away.