Monday, January 7, 2008
In a particularly curmudgeonly fashion, I was refusing all entreaties to usher in the new year with any kind of enthusiasm.
No, I say, it is my new resolution:
Life is too short to waste on things I don’t want to do, and people I don’t want to do them with.
I refuse to go to the harbour, or to parties I hate. I wont I wont I wont.
It is my friend, the Little Hen, wittering away at me with her almost-erased Devonshire accent, who draws me out, and gently convinces me to come to a party. At the very last minute she phones and says:
Make sure you wear something glamorous . A dress like Marilyn Monroe would be just the thing.
As it happens, in my cupboard is my favourite dress of all dresses, The Midnight Blue.
This dress is the one of which I dreamed as a child. It is the dress one might imagine oneself dancing in the light of the full moon, or singing to the sea and the stars. It is the loveliest soft velvet, in midnight blue. Indigo, so dark as to be almost black, its sheen lighting up with blue light. It falls to the ground, it hugs the body, and is slit a little way up one side. A dress I would have drawn all along the margins of my schoolbooks.
I take it out and hug it. It strikes me that this dress, this dress of my dreams arrived in my grasp too late: it is a dress one should wear at 18, or twenty-four. But by the time I could afford a dress like this, I was beyond those ages. I just remember seeing it and wanting it so much, and then wishing…well. Wishing many things.
I wore it once.
Indigo Sea, detail.
I look down at myself and wonder if I will even fit into this hugging blue velvet dress, stinky and salty old fish I am. My hair is tousled, unbrushed and messy from the salt. I slip the dress over my head, the heavy softness blocks the light for a moment, as I wriggle in. The soft velvet flashes.
I run my hands all over it, every bit. I am wearing this dress for all those times I should have been bedecked in velvet and was not.
For all the things I should have done, and couldn't.
The feel of it , and me in it, is a gift.
A sensation of wonder.
How on earth can I still manage to get into this?
I grab a hair-clip and bundle my hair into it.
I am going to welcome 2008. I am wearing blue velvet which goes all the way to the ground and hugs me tight, so tight I am part of the night sky.
I step out into the suburban street. The night is warm. My son chatters at my elbow, looking me up and down, frowning.
Everyone, when I arrive, looks at me in astonishment:
you look beautiful beautiful beautiful
the dress works its magic on them all them all them all.
I hug myself, entranced, here it is 2008, and I have squeezed myself into a piece of the night sky and pranced around in it, so far along the road which is my life, way past the post that said that no compliment ought come my way again, magic indeed.
The distant fireworks light up the quiet streets, silently, they flare and glitter.
Time and place converge, there is silver and blue. The year becomes another.
I am everywhere in the world at once.
Clad thus, I shall dance through 2008, holding my head high, dreaming my dreams, crying my tears, doing all the things I need to do, holding on to the thought of indigo velvet, as tightly as I can.
Happy New Year.