Here I am with just a few moments to spare. The house is quiet, except for the obligatory tick tick tick of the clock. We bought it at Ikea for $1.99, and it ticks so plainly that it reminds me of the big black wall clocks that hung in every elementary and secondary school classroom I ever sat in.
I was thinking today about a little vintage shop that I used to frequent when I was a teenager. Perched on the far corner of the cobblestone streets in the Oregon District in Dayton, Ohio, it was a small pink jewel in an otherwise gritty block. Just a building over was a bar known for mafia activity, gunfire, and blood on the sidewalk. But the vintage shop was perfectly quiet and dainty, and closed at 6:00, well before the bar rolled up its iron gate.
I could never afford to buy much: a bracelet here, a scarf there. Once I found a camel-colored cardigan with three quarter inch sleeves that fit me so well that I wrote a check that I knew might bounce, so I hurried to the bank afterward and deposited a few soiled dollar bills and some coins from the bottom of my purse. A checking account was a new thing for me, then. I remember I ordered checks with the Simpsons on them.
Since I came of age in the 1990’s, the clothes in the vintage shops were mostly from the twenties through the sixties, not the seventies and eighties as they are now. Clothing from those more recent decades saturated thrift stores, and no one was prepared to call something so close in the past “antique” or “vintage” yet.
There was one sweater set I coveted: soft, pink, angora, and sequined. It reminded me of something that Ed Wood would wear. Standing in the shop, mothball and lilac wafting up from the clothes and the carpet and the ancient proprietress, I felt a little swoon come over me as I ran my hands up and down the sleeves. I couldn’t buy it. Too much money, the wrong size. Most of the clothes in the shop were the wrong size, even at my lightest and slimmest I am tall, full, and curvy. I tower over many women today, and I imagine if I were alive during the time that the clothes I admired were new I would appear to be a sort of giant.
One of my great-grandmothers was almost six feet tall. There’s a photograph of her and a friend standing underneath a tree, wearing cloche hats and short flapper dresses. Their lips are dark; their eyes smoldering. She must have been such a standout knockout, you know? Six feet tall, gorgeous and fierce. No demure sweater sets for her, I would bet.
I apologize for my absence here. I have been at school, as you know. It’s been wonderful, and I have been writing a lot as you’d imagine. I’m excited to say that I’ll be doing a presentation in my Communications Class on the Kreung Tribe of Cambodia (they of the “Love Huts”), and am also writing a short piece on the dreadful crime that inspired Emma Donoghue to write the brilliant, wonderful, sad novel Room. I will be busy for the next, oh, five or six years, but I will always need this outlet. I need a place to store my memories and my dreams.
I always wanted to be a Ziegfeld Girl…