I wasn’t sure what it was or where it came from, but it was beautiful. It had no name, no label, no indication of who had designed it. “It’s vintage,” she said to me, gesturing for me to try it on. I’ve never been much of a shopper, and in relation to that, I’ve developed this belief that I must not be very fashionable. But the truth is, I adore fashion. I just have a different level of appreciation for fashion. Fashion, for me, isn’t a thing, or a name, or a style. It’s a fit. It’s a feeling. I pulled the vintage top over my head, adjusting the shoulder pads that accentuated my already too-broad-for-a-small-frame shoulders, and ran my hands lightly down its bead-embroidered front. And then I felt it – the feeling! The feeling of fashion. This is the same feeling that, regardless of the state of my bank account, forces me to buy a piece of clothing. It’s the feeling that makes me fall in love with myself and my body, and my entire image all over again, even when I’m dealing with my highest levels of self-loathing. It’s the feeling of fashion that inspires an excited warmth in the core of my being. Without this feeling, I believe there is no fashion. Without the feeling, fashion is simply clothing. This is the reason that, when I lose a piece of my clothing or when I discover a new piece to add to my wardrobe, I’m overwhelmed with emotion. My clothes are like my own little family; with each addition, a smile, with each departure, a tear. And, vintage, too. The mystery in this piece – with its hand-stitched beading and charming scalloped edges – only makes the feeling grow that much stronger. A feeling so enlightening, I wish it had a name.
I was crying in my state room when I got busted in on, at the very worst moment possible. After hearing – with horror – the knock at my door, and after attempting to shout out an alarming “busy” over my tears, my door swung open. “Oh, sorry Miss,” the cruise-line attendant said in shock, immediately backing out of my room and closing the door. I was sitting at the vanity, clutching my diary, tears rolling violently down my cheeks. In a moment of despair I had written: “Channeling my inner strength – come to me now!” Luckily the inner strength did come, and I pulled myself together. I put on my sunglasses, and found myself a seat in the jam-packed muster station for the mandatory safety review, the one which the disruptive attendant had failed to mention was in tow. As I walked back to my room, my troubles still pestered me. I was unprepared for the overly enthusiastic greeting that came from the knowing attendant, who likely pegged me as emotionally unsound. I wondered how I’d make it through five nights aboard the ship, which to my horror, was filled with easily-entertained Americans, characters I knew I’d have trouble relating to. But I reminded myself of the purpose of my solo vacation, which had started ten days earlier in Orlando, Florida. The purpose was to be alone. To write. To figure out my life. But as I stood in line, waiting to embark the ship, I had a sinking feeling of dread. And as I sat in my windowless state room, I envisioned myself retrieving my luggage and fleeing from the ship in a panic. Anyone who’s ever traveled alone knows the feeling. Amidst the joy and spontaneity and spiritual-enlightenment of this amazing journey, I would at times hit sudden, unexplained ruts of painful loneliness and despair. These moments always dissipated quickly, but this particular rut in the state room seemed to be extraordinarily deep. I visited the buffet and picked my way through greasy entrees towards the fruit bowl. I decided I’d start my health kick now, collecting a pear, a banana, and a glass of water for dinner. I wasn’t really in the mood to eat anyways, I thought, as I settled into a quiet area in the adults only “Serenity” lounge at the back of the ship. I experienced a giant sigh of relief when…