There are people who spend their entire lives with their fine china collecting dust behind glass doors. Decorative embroidered linens are reserved for future visitors, guestrooms are tidied to perfection while the home’s usual inhabitants tiptoe around thresholds untouched, and furniture is snugly smothered under clingy plastic, all lying in wait for an undetermined special occasion, for the perfect moment.
I find myself amongst these preservers of pretty things. I am the product of a father who saved the wilting golden buttercup I once picked for him as a little girl and who has shelves cluttered with every toy my brother and I have ever owned, and a mother who strictly forbids us to use the hand towels in the downstairs bathroom. Not exactly a hoarder, perhaps more of a semimetal saver, I save things from special occasions and for special occasions.
During those few instances that an innocent shopping trip has transformed itself into an informal Treat Yoself Day by the sudden emergence of a sartorial savior I never I knew I needed, I have been led by an angelic chorus of magical harmonies and gently plucking harp strings to the perfect dress, sitting shrouded under the beam of a heavenly glow. These perfect articles of clothing seem to demand a special occasion, a worthy moment, they seem unfitting for the mundane, as if they should not be wasted on the ordinary.
I am guilty of storing a favorite article of clothing in my tiny bedroom closet for months, even years. I’ll open the closet door and admire, even utter a “my precious,” only to firmly determine it unfitting for the present. I tell myself that the time has not yet come, that I should save it for later, that a better, more fitting affair is ahead. What it is exactly that I am waiting for, I have no idea.
With the juvenile candy-colored dreams of someone who believes that every holiday should be commemorated with all of its embarrassing Hallmark particularities, naïveté and an overly festive spirit have goaded me to impulsively purchase a new dress the last two Valentine’s Days despite my status as one half of a long distance relationship. Each year, pink lace and ridiculously printed skirts have waited hopefully for an undetermined occasion, only to be later pushed aside with tags intact and receipt cautiously crumbled in the top desk drawer. After concluding that the moment I had imagined would not be realized, the allure of the new dress had faded and the initial excitement dimmed.
There is the idea that everyday life somehow isn’t good enough. So much time is spent in preparation of something later down the road. Hypothetical happinesses and fantasies consume the thoughts of the present.
It is not until recently that I have learned that life is made up of the ordinary or seemingly ordinary moments. That we shouldn’t spend too much time waiting for tomorrow. Like my grandmother who sneakily sprinkles salt on her food with a mischievous gleam in her eye and a cynical comment about her mortality, even though she knows quite well that she isn’t supposed to, we can afford to allow ourselves to indulge a little (yet perhaps not to disobey doctor’s orders). We do not need an invitation to don our favorite dresses, to drape the kitchen table in the formal table cloth. We can live in beauty every day.