Last week in a dream I went to a bridal shop with a friend to help her choose a dress. Eventually it was just me in the shop trying on dresses. I put a bridesmaid dress on over a bridal gown and instantly felt powerful. It was truly awesome, seriously. Have you seen the Duchess with Keira? A dress like that. Late 18th century, full skirt, tight bodice, deep midnight blue taffetta over white tulle, beaded embroidery at the edges. My waist looked severe. In this dress, I was going to rule the world. I approached the shop ladies and they oohed and ahhed over the combination and I decided to buy it. We went through several iterations of the process of trying to combine the two dresses into one, which resulted in the dresses fitting me very badly one way or another. I went into the back to the sewing studio and pricked my finger deeply with a pin someone had recklessly left stuck in the cushion of my chair. And I started to remember that I didn’t have a fiance, I didn’t have a lot of money, I had this dress and I wanted it, and I’d basically committed to purchasing it… but I had no wedding to wear it for. Yet. The dress started to unravel. It began to lose meaning. I walked back into the main part of the shop and a couple who I know from college were standing outside the shop window looking in, and I felt I had to hide from them. I was ashamed. I blushed, turned my back, and ran to the back of the store. I kept peeking at them, though, as I left. They looked beautiful, secure, whole. I wanted what they had.
What is it with dresses? Why do I (we!) give them so much power? What is the value of a wedding dress? What does it mean? What does it say about me if I have one? Why was I ashamed?
And when I pricked my finger did I wake up, or did I fall asleep?