All I wanted to do was buy a stove top espresso maker. That was the plan as I walked into the mall yesterday, smack in between the busy-ness of touching down at the airport after nearly two weeks away from home, and a three-hour drive to New Jersey for a Spiritual Retreat at the sanctuary of the one and only Masha Penson.
I get a little edgy if I don't have espresso in the morning, brewed to the specifications to which I've grown accustomed: the steaming contents of a size medium Bialetti pot, four tablespoons of light cream, and 3/4 tablespoon of honey. Pure Bliss. I'd been ten days without this morning elixir and could take no more, so in I popped to Colonie Center and the Coffee Beanery, where they sell great equipment and accessories.
Sorry, espresso always gets me off on a tangent. So yesterday afternoon, I'm sailing out of Colonie Center with my shiny steel espresso pot and making a beeline for the New York State Thruway when I was stopped cold in my tracks by an orange dress hanging in the entry way of an eyebrow-threading boutique adorably named Arch. They specialize in brow threading and Mehndi tattoos so it was surprising there was clothing at all, but the orange work of art with black embroidery literally shouted to me across the corridor, where ironically, I was bypassing one of my former passions: those hot and sticky cinnamon buns the size of doorstops. Or as I like to call them, the binge-eater's version of shooting up.
Even before pulling the dress off its silver hanger I could tell it was one of those above-the-knee varietals ...the blithe and airy dresses I'd only seen on other women. That's when the heart started racing. Was the world ready for this? Was I? Before I'd fully yanked the apricot-colored fabric all the way over my head, my inner-knowing kicked in, and I realized I'd be walking out onto public asphalt wearing the little orange dress. Good thing, because it fit perfectly...something I wasn't sure would actually happen after 10 days of semi-recreational eating (an occupational hazard of the travel writer).
I loved the way it looked and felt on me, but this was a MINI dress. The thought of walking out from behind the black velvet dressing room curtain terrified me. I first poked my head out, then the rest of me...eyes fixed on the boutique owner and the woman she was waiting on. Uncensored first-few-seconds-of-viewing reactions were what I was after. If they looked aghast or tried stifling a laugh, that would be my sign to 86 Operation First Mini Dress.
But there was no suppressed laughter, and I detected no flashes of disgust or pity. I realize it's wise to take a salewoman's oohing and aahhing with grain of salt, but Sarah either really loved the little orange dress on me or has missed her calling as an Academy Award caliber actor. Besides, every fiber in me was pulsating with joy. I loved everything about the dress, from the color and embroidery detail, to the price, and the way the lightness of the fabric danced across my skin.
Some of you regular readers know that an ongoing theme of my transformation has been that of visibility. Other ways of putting that include allowing myself to feel vulnerable, making frequent trips out of my comfort zone, and confronting fears for the sheer challenge of it (like skulling, parasailing, or letting a man get to know me).
For many years I was hidden. Literally and figuratively. Carrying the burden of nearly 200 pounds of excess weight plus the unquantifiable emotional pain that accompanies it has a tendency to wreak havoc on your Life force. I don't know if in my former state Life avoided me or I avoided Life. I do know now that Life responds to how I approach it. When I started paying attention to who I really am, stopped drugging myself with food, and started deconstruction on the wall of protection, Life responded with Amazing people and situations...some of whom seemed to be literally airlifted into my lap. Without me orchestrating it. That's the beauty of Life and its responsive nature.
So how could I not (grain of saleswoman salt and all) take this dress and love it? Yes, I was not entirely comfortable walking out the door wearing it. My breathing was guarded and shallow as I sensed wind and sun on my knees...I may have even looked nervously around the parking lot to see if there was a lurking cop. I felt like I'd just broken a major law of proper conduct. But I kept on walking. You know why? Beause I can't remember the last time I said no, turned back, and not taken a challenge by the hand. So why start now?