small, pink jewel

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…

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9 thoughts on “small, pink jewel

  1. If I could look like that, I’d be a Ziegfield girl, too. I’m glad you’re back — have missed your posts and fine, fine writing.

  2. What a beautiful slice of the past you have shared in this post. I wish I could memories in such vivid detail.

    I also homed in on Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’, that book really affected me in many, many ways. I’ve never really researched the crime behind it – you’ve now inspired me to do so.

  3. I, too, LOVED looking (and still do, although I don’t much anymore) at vintage clothing. Where I went to school in Humboldt County, Northern Cali, there were a couple of antique stores that catered to the college students and had the wonderful sweaters and skirts that petite-sized woman of the decades you mention wore. I ALWAYS was looking for those sequined finely sewn sweaters, too, and if I found one here and there that maybe had a teeny hole somewhere or a small, barely noticeable stain, and if the price wasn’t over $25 or $30, I’d snatch it up. I am also surprised to know you are tall, Chrissy. For some reason, I didn’t picture you as tall, and I have no idea why I would or wouldn’t having only seen pictures of you. 🙂 My sister stands 5’11…me…I’m a regular old 5’4, LOL. I’m so happy you are enjoying school, but I just knew you would! Many, many hugs your way. XOXO-SWM

  4. If you like, I can share my finished piece here when I’m completed. The crime was horrific, but there is a sort of silver, hopeful light at the end of it.

    Thank you so much for your sweet comment. xo

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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