My mom and I were going to a favorite chocolate shop in Whitby, England, the coastal town in the northeast where my grandparents had lived. Exhausted from the visit, and from the ongoing transatlantic relationship problems I was dealing with, this floral dress in the window of the adjacent clothing store caught my eye. The store was all ethically-produced, ethically-traded, and as I tried it on, I saw it as my fantasy of an alternatively styled bridal getup. In that dress, I saw that everything could be okay—that my new boyfriend would one day be my husband, that my green card would work out. In it, I could see a rosy future, and with those notions quietly in mind, I carried it with me through our relationship and as I moved from place to place over four years.
Over those years, the dress grew looser on my frame, until finally I had to have it tailored so I could wear it to my rehearsal dinner—not the wedding itself. I took it to a non-English speaking tailor in Chinatown, who did what I needed nevertheless, leaving his trace in black thread on the inner side seams, contrasting with the red thread holding the whole thing together. Like a prophecy, the dress made its way into my marriage, now residing with me in America, wearing and fading like my accent, for three retired years in my closet.
This story was written for Emily Spivack’s workshop at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia on May 6th, 2015.