My arms were full – two sacks of groceries plus the mail. I dropped everything onto the breakfast bar. A magazine fell to the floor. I stooped to pick it up and was spellbound with the cover. It was the most beautiful gown I had ever seen – a full-length champagne satin skirt draped down from a beaded bodice overlay – pearls and sequins, white and silver. How I longed for that dress, but $300 was impossible. I tossed the catalog onto the desk when my three sons barreled in.
“What’s for dinner?”
Months went by. I imagined myself in that gown. My golden hair hovered over the middle of my back. It could easily be swept up so as not to distract from the elegant gown. But where would I wear the dress? My time was soaked up on baseball fields when not at work. I didn’t care about the practicality of that dress in my closet, but how could I ever come up with the money? Perhaps someday my Cinderella dream will come true – to wear this flowy gown and dance at the Harvest Ball.
Eventually, I discarded the catalog. There were baseball gloves, bats, and balls to buy. Whenever an updated catalog arrived in the mail, I peeked inside. It was listed in the special occasion section but still $300. A year went by when, to my surprise, the dress was advertised on clearance for under $100. I charged it and couldn’t wait to try it on as I rushed into my bedroom and shut the door the day it arrived. It was just as gorgeous on me as the model – or so I thought – until my youngest son burst through the bedroom door.
“Why are you wearing that?”
“Just trying on.”
I felt silly so hid the dress in a remote closet in the basement. Years passed. When I exchanged a few items in the closet to go along with the seasons, I wondered, “Should I keep this dress? Will I ever get to wear it?” Do Not Remove This Tag still hung from the inside.
Ten years passed – sons grew up, a divorce after thirty years – and I needed to find my way. I had to dance and enrolled in ballroom dancing classes no longer afraid to live my dreams. Several months later, although I was still a novice, my teacher coaxed me to perform in a public routine, a waltz showcase. We rehearsed for months. A few weeks before the performance, my middle son returned home from college for the summer and was struck with cancer. I said I would withdraw from the program. But three weeks later, he had recovered from surgery with a good prognosis; and it appeared I could dance – just a few days away.
I ran to the closet, riffled through the sandwiched dresses, and found it – my perfect sparkling dream. I took it out of the clear plastic bag, snipped off the tags, and stepped into the dress. My oldest son zipped it up, and I modeled it around the house. When I turned to head back downstairs, the sixteen-inch zipper split! I could not consider another dress. Everything was planned – the jewelry, the nails, the shoes – it had to be this gown. The performance was the next evening. Could I save my dream?
The next morning, I telephoned every tailor listed online. I found one who agreed to help if I could get the dress to her immediately, but I couldn’t leave work. My baseball-mom friend delivered the dress in her engine-blowing suburban, and they shared a chuckle about my obsession.
Dress in tow, I arrived at the studio early and adorned myself – the gown, rhinestone necklace, bracelets, earrings, and the glitter-filled white nails. I’m not sure which had more bling – the beaded bodice or my skin. My hair, still golden, did not have to be swept up. I learned that shorter hair helped me age with grace. I gazed in the full-length mirror and felt good. My heart pounded from anticipation and nervousness as the emcee announced my name. My teacher waited at the door; my moment was at hand. Adrenalin transformed into confidence the instant my silver shoes touched the wood floor. The skirt flowed with each rise and fall; the bodice glistened with each twirl. And I couldn’t stop smiling as we waltzed without missing a beat.