Words on a Dress

This post is part of ChicagoNow’s monthly “Blogapalooza” challenge.  Bloggers are provided a writing prompt at 9:00 pm and must post by 10:00 pm.  Here is tonight’s prompt:

“Share your favorite quote (or quotes) — from a philosopher, author, comedian, politician, friend, family member, movie, whoever — and write in detail about why it resonates and has meaning for you.”

I got married in the spring of 2001, just shy of fifteen years ago.  Fifteen years ago, man. That is a long time.  I am proud of us, my husband and I.  We’ve weathered many storms in those years, and somehow, miraculously, have remained solid, together, married.

Back in 2001, it was my husband who was the creative one.  I was the sensible one. The social worker.  The career driven one.  My husband and I met through a classified ad in the Chicago Reader.  It was 1996, so that was pretty much pre-online.  We met through a freaking newspaper, people!  That is how long we’ve been together.

I make note of that, because in all the time we’ve been together, words have factored into our relationship.  In a big way.  It was my words on the classified page of a newspaper that attracted the love of my life to me.

One of the things that I loved about my husband from the get go was that he was a writer.  Not me, mind you.  Him.  He was the writer.  I was the fan, the groupie, the hopelessly straight girl from the suburbs who was attracted to creative types.

Six weeks after we met, my husband, then just barely a boyfriend, moved away to Europe for six months.  Our courtship was virtual, through words, and remains, to this day, the single most romantic period of my life.

The words we shared on a daily basis, me at my keyboard in Chicago, Jeremy at his keyboard in Amsterdam, are the foundation for those fifteen years of marriage.

When he returned, we moved in together.  It took a few years, but, finally, he proposed. I was inches away from popping the question myself, but, gratefully, he was first.  I know that is impossibly anti-feminist, but I’ll own it.

We wrote our own vows, of course, because, well, words.  They have always been important to us.  They are our glue, the adhesive of our understanding.  Words.

I had a complicated relationship with being a bride.  It truly did not appeal to me.  I felt, in many ways, like a prop, a symbol, a pretty girl in a white dress playing a part. One of the ways I marked the day as my own was with words.

My dress was made for me by a homemaker in Dyer, Indiana.  The fittings took place in her kitchen.  She had made my sister’s dress and my sister-in-law’s dress, too.  I was a challenging client, I think, because of that whole ambivalent attitude towards all things bridal.

The dress was plain satin.  No tulle, no train.  It was strapless with sweet scallops along the bodice.  Along the hem of the dress, in periwinkle blue embroidery, was a quote.  It was a line from an e. e. cummings poem.  My sister found the quote for me, she knowing me better than most.  As soon as I read the words, I knew they were the ones. A bit like the man I was marrying.

Always it’s spring, everyone’s in love, and flowers pick themselves.

Fifteen years later, those words encapsulate hope for me.  Hope.  More than anything else, the thing that has gotten me through life.

At the time, I didn’t know from hope. My parents were alive and well.  I hadn’t yet thought about motherhood, let alone burying a child.  Cancer was a bad thing that happened to other people. I was still naive.

Fifteen years ago, as I prepared for marriage to the man I love, the words meant something different to me.  They were about spring and potential and life and all things that are new and joyous and possible.

Wedding Dress

Hope evolves, just like life does.  The ten words that wrapped themselves around the hem of my wedding dress have evolved, too.  I may have lost my naivete to grief, but I still cling to joy, to life, to potential, and to that earnest love for a man who still stands beside me.

 

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