Warning: This is a really long post about a singular dress.
When I lived on St. Thomas, I worked at an internet cafe in downtown Charlotte-Amalie. The shop was reached by walking down a thin cobblestone passage way with beautiful brick warehouses built by the Danes in the nineteenth century on either side. I would arrive at 6:30am and open the doors of the cafe to waiting shopkeepers and tourists itching to check email at 7:00. This was way before the days of WiFi and folks toting around their MacBooks on vacation was not the norm. After a day or two of visits, I knew everyone’s drink choice. If you bought from me more than once, I remembered if you preferred skim or soy, whether or not you tipped and if you were born here or on vacation or a recent transplant. Sometimes I could even recall your name, which was always the hardest part to drill into my brain.
In 2001, there was a European couple who visited the cafe every single morning for a week. They were staying in a guest house in the neighborhood of Savan, home to strip clubs, brothels and wild bars, and an area of Charlotte-Amalie that even my fearless ass wouldn’t walk in after dark. Each morning I found them waiting outside when I opened the doors and each afternoon they stopped back in before I closed for a cappuccino or glass of wine. And each day, the woman wore the same dress.
On their second early morning visit, I felt like I was in the movie Groundhog Day. I turn on the music, open the large green wooden doors of the cafe and this couple is in the exact same spot as they had been the previous day, the woman in the same clothing, her black curls styled in two ponytails, her make-up immaculate. The only indication that this was indeed a completely different day was that our local vagrant, a woman who apparently burned her family’s Frenchtown house down back in the 80s and had been living under a boat near Fort Christian ever since, was acting up and getting angry that her bagel wasn’t ready– I usually had it ready to go by 7:03am in a paper bag with two jams so I could get her in and out right away. She had behaved perfectly the day prior and her cursing at my delay reassured me that this was indeed a new morning and that I was not experiencing some strange time warp.
Once I recovered from my bout of deja vu, my co-workers and I talked mess about this woman and her single dress for the next six days, immediately after the couple departed to start their day. How did she launder the dress? Was it all she had brought? Did the airline lose her luggage? Why hadn’t she just purchased a couple of wrap skirts and worn those? I never found out, being too shy to ask a simple question. After awhile, I began to admire her. The dress fit perfectly, was in style, looked well made and it complimented her complexion and her figure; I thought about how easy it would be to just toss the same thing on every day without having to think about it. Thanks to this lady and her daily dress, I remember this week of my life with complete clarity, down to what I wore to work [Monday: denim knee-length skirt, brown tank top; Tuesday: light weight wide legged jeans, white tank top, etc. etc.].
Since then, I’ve been searching for a dress I would feel comfortable wearing every single day. I found it this past weekend at Vintage Heaven, the monthly (I think) vintage pop-up shop at Heaven Gallery on Milwaukee Avenue.
Excuse my non-smiling face. This dress is perfect for my daily wear. It’s good for summer with sandals, fall with heels and winter with leggings and boots. I wore it Saturday night for drinks at Simone’s Bar in Pilsen, Sunday for Canadian Thanksgiving at Simone and Corey’s Canadian Thanksgiving celebration and I plan on wearing it to dinner tonight. And guess what? I love it so much that I have no shame in admitting any of this. I didn’t lose my luggage, I’m not broke, I have other dresses that I like wearing. This week, I’m simply channeling that European woman and her week of wearing the same dress every day. My new dress is that fantastic.