Columnists

White Dresses

I’ve been under some stress lately.

I’ve written a novel, and now I have to wait to find someone who thinks it’s worth publishing. (I happen to think it is, for the record.) So, while I wait, I get more and more nervous.

I know all the standard advice for this, and I try to follow it. I try to get plenty of sleep. (But how am I supposed to sleep when I don’t know what will happen tomorrow?!) I try to eat healthy foods at healthy times. (But how am I supposed to avoid snacking at midnight when I’m roaming around the house like a nervous ghost, unable to sleep?!) I listen to guided meditations where this super-calm voice tells me that “everything is happening in perfect timing.” But this meditation was recorded years ago, and there’s no telling if the timing of things might have changed since then (what with the pandemic and all), and I realize I haven’t heard a word she’s said for the last several minutes.

I told my doctor I was stressed, and she offered me some sort of serotonin pills, which do absolutely nothing as far as I can tell, so I forget to take them. I could reduce my coffee intake but, come on, I don’t want to be stressed and dead, so what’s the point in that? I try to read books, but I start to wonder who published them and how long the author had to wait before they were published and if they went crazy in the meantime and if they had some sort of secret edge and how could I get that edge and then I notice I have not read a single word. No. The only thing I’ve found that really helps to calm me down is shopping for dresses.

“Do you need more dresses?” my husband, Peter, asks.

This is such a silly question. Of course, I do not need more dresses. The truth is, I don’t even buy that many dresses. What I do is go to my favorite online consignment shop and look at dresses. OK, occasionally one of them makes it to my house. But that is not the point. It is the focus; it is the hypnotic quality of looking for the perfect white dress. This is very calming.

“You already have a white dress,” a buttinsky voice in my head points out.

“Did I ask you?” I reply.

Obviously, I don’t have the particular kind of white dress that I am looking for now and, whose business is it anyway, if I want to buy a $13 white dress and own two totally different white dresses! I could be roaming the streets looking for hard drugs in my current state of mind. Instead, I am stuffing my closet with white dresses which, it is true, I might not wear that often—if at all.

But that is why dress shopping is so alluring. It has almost nothing to do with the dresses.

Shopping for dresses allows me to imagine where I would wear the dresses, and the places I imagine I would wear them are all pleasant places. They are evenings out where I am not stressed—parties and celebrations and gatherings of friends. These dresses remind me that these things have happened and will happen again, and this current period of sitting in my pajamas in the middle of the night eating snack food is temporary.

Life has its ups and downs. When things are calmer, I plan to wear a lovely new white dress.

Till next time,

Carrie

– Carrie Classon is a freelance writer and author and lives in New Mexico. Her columns appear each week.