May 17, 2006
Vinnies, William Street
I was so close that it would be rude not to pop in.
Cheryl was back after a two week break that she’d spent with some friends who’d come over from Tasmania. I told her I was on my way to STA to find some information about accommodation in Tassie because me and my boyfriend were going there for a couple of weeks in the winter. I told her I was born there and she said she was too, which gave me yet another reason to feel close to this wonderful woman who calls me her favourite customer and always gives unflinchingly honest opinions of whatever you try on in her shop.
Soon enough I was enjoying myself in the long mirror in a faux-fur jacketini when she came over with The Dress. It was floor length, white, with a fitted waist, a high collar and a beautiful lace inlay on the chest. The sleeves had a long, three-buttoned cuff that you pushed up over your elbows, allowing the sleeves to gently bunch. The shoulder pads were removable—-removable!—-and it was in perfect condition. It was the homesteader’s dress I have been on the look out for since I knew what a dress was. Call it colonial chic, call it bohemian rhapsody, call it a blast from the past, it was gorgeous and it was just worn enough to look legitimate and “working”. Cheryl knew I would have to try it on. I did.
I came out of the dressing room and, yes, it fitted like a dream. Cheryl told me that the buttons were heart shaped as she did up the back. The mirror reported good things. Suddenly I knew why I had been resisting the urge to bob my hair, as long hair and this dress were made for each other, just as I knew this dress was made for me. Everybody in the shop cooed. And like clockwork, the doubts kicked in.
“The problem is”, I mustered, “where are you going to wear a dress like this in Perth?”
Lauren, who I had just been introduced to this morning was a very pretty, pretty tough teenager who was working there under the Work for the Dole banner. She wore a boxy parka and many silver rings. She had thick black liner and a whole heap of glitter around her eyes. At this point she stepped up.
“You wear it wherever you want. I’d wear it to a rave!” She was serious. All eyes, no smile.
“Yeah?” I checked, more surprised than anything that kids still went to raves.
“Fuck yeah”, she said, leaning in. “Who cares what other people think”.
Who cares what other people think?
The fog lifted from my brain. I was glued to the intensity and certainty of Lauren’s words. Who cares what other people think? A flood of shame crashed down on me. How had I forgotten, however temporarily, this one true thing? It was my mantra when I was sixteen, the one thing you knew you had to really get if you were going to survive in this life. We were all told: anyone who has contributed anything worthwhile to this society has had to endure, at some stage, ridicule, harassment and shame. Because the one trait uniting truly great people is that they never let what other people think get in the way of what they’re doing. And here I was worrying about the possibility of a few bogans snickering at me in my homesteader’s dress. Or (worse) the cynical eye of a Conde Nast junkie who can afford actual Chloe. I vowed then and there to stop reading perezhilton.com
Fifteen minutes later and I’m out the door, with a new dress and jacketini, a nice discount and a free bauble. I pop into Il Vero Gusto for the cheapest and best pasta in Perth (it’s run by Joe who used to run Cafe Sport, so you know the food and coffee’s good and cheap) and then it’s into the travel agent to plan a little trip back to my misty homeland. When I get home Patrick tells me I should’ve bought a map of Tasmania. I wonder what was so wrong with the old one.
May 05, 2006
Making it easier on myself
All the silly human beings rushing to work, walking all over each other, puffing on their cigarettes. Sitting with their coffees, devouring their gossip rags, their cigarettes and their slice ‘em ‘n dice ‘em thrillers. Being so rude to one another it’s as though they’re attacking you personally. Yelling on their mobiles and flicking butts into the flowers.
And God loves every single one of them.
That thought saved me today, as I was walking to work amongst the throng. If it’s good enough for her then it’s good enough for me.
And the knot in my stomach untied.
Soon I saw the goodness again. It has been with me all day.
Faith performs small miracles as well as large.
I am a dag who believes.