This blog post is brought to you by 826 Boston's annual Write-a-Thon fundraiser. 826 Boston is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. I love this organization with my whole heart. I owe my desire to be a teacher to their unquenchably curious, quirky, and candid students. I beseech you to follow this link to my Write-a-Thon page and make a donation of any amount. My goal is to reach $250; so far, I have raised $70. What follows is a personal essay that I actually started writing while volunteering at 826 Boston--concrete evidence of this organization's incredible power to inspire even the most reluctant of writers, ahem, like me. Thanks for reading!
As a little girl, perfection to me was a pastel dress with a sheer tulle bow in the back. Personal aesthetic is a peculiar thing, the way we make millions of minuscule decisions about our own exterior everyday.
I used to think that having these trains of thought, that is, consciously thinking about the way I chose to present myself, somehow made me less intelligent, interesting, or full dimensional, that considering my own portrayal made me shallow, that just by matching my necklace to my dress I was perpetuating a long history of empty-headed ideology that says women who decorate themselves with blush or high heels do so to compensate for the gap between their ears (insert sarcastic hair flip here).
Now that I'm older, I realize that being deliberate in my dress does not negate the weight of my ideas. I realize, now, that this awareness, this attention to color coordination, this preference for certain silhouettes and prints, this untranslatable understanding of my own style manifests itself in the way I make sense of things. It's a curiosity, a creativity, a lens, an intuitive sense, a constant revision.
It's meeting the original owner of my favorite vintage 1960s Lily Pulitzer floral dress, and discovering that these seemingly incidental objects can define us. They make us part of something bigger than ourselves; they allow us to live our lives in vivid history. They give us the ability to express the context of who we are without saying a word.
With vintage, it's the details that matter: the buttons made of extinct materials like bakelite and lucite, remnants and reminders of our contradictory significance and transience in this elaborate, on-going tapestry.
These days, perfection is only marginally about the dress. It's more about the experience, the hunt, the process, the scavenging and constructing, assembling something with meaning, texture, detail, resonance, and heart. Kind of like writing.