I saw my blouse today, the green one.
I remember when it was new. We had been visiting friends in Chicago and I had been shopping in the Water Tower shopping plaza, the upscale collection of beautiful shops on Michigan Avenue. There it was, in the middle of a small chic window display, a rich emerald green silk blouse. I'm not much of a clotheshorse, but had an urgent need to try it on.
Ohhhh, it fit perfectly! And it had this wonderful royal blue and gold embroidery down the front tab and on both shoulders, so elegant. The sleeves were long and billowy ending with French cuffs that had tiny round gold buttons. The buttons on the blouse itself were hidden by that fabulously embroidered royal blue and gold tab. The back had a full center pleat and made me think of wealthy ladies wearing poet blouses and tight Capri pants and 3-inch heels with pointy toes.
Princess what's-her-name's daughter would wear a blouse like this - that movie star who married the Prince of Monaco - maybe, he was king, don't remember. Anyway, Princess what's-her-name and her friends would be toasting each other at an afternoon soiree, sipping wine instead of the usual tea and scones affair. Yes, I decided I needed this blouse.
Now I needed a skirt or slacks to complete the look. I found pajama pants - the wide-legged pants that were chic at the time and in the same shade of blue as the embroidery. Emerald green and royal blue - a beautiful color combination.
I followed my blouse... into the food court at the Dadeland Shopping Center in the south end of Miami.
The first time I wore the outfit, my friends oohed and ahhed and I was pleased I had chosen well. My husband liked it, too, always a treat when he noticed what I wore. The outfit had served me well and was eventually relegated to the back of a closet. One day, while sorting items for a clothing drive, I came across the blouse and slacks and tried them on - still beautiful. I thought about keeping the clothes, then changed my mind. There was still a great deal of wear in them and I hoped someone else would find them attractive. They went into the clothing donation box with other things.
I watched the sleeves undulate as the arm in the blouse reached for a Greek gyro, the sandwich wrapped neatly in foil, just a bit of lamb visible at the top. Ohhh... if tzatziki sauce drips on the cuffs... the stain will be so hard to get out.
The sandwich looked good... everything I was wearing was washable; I ordered the extra large size.
The lady in the blouse finally caught me staring...
"I beg your pardon," I apologized with a smile. "I was just admiring your beautiful blouse."
"It's my very favorite blouse," she smiled in return, a smile so beauteous, it warmed my heart. "My husband gave it to me for my birthday," she added. "I know it was terribly expensive once and I know he bought it at the annual church bazaar. Isn't it wonderful?"
"Yes, it is," I agreed, moving to her tiny table in the food court, gesturing that she should help herself to the thick fries that had come with my extra large gyro. I'm not crazy about fries; they would simply go to waste.
She took me up on my offer, enjoying the extra treat and we shared small talk while my eyes surreptitiously assessed the rest of her. Her hair was brownish-blonde, cut short like a boy's but softened with bangs which accentuated her wide brown eyes. Her nose had a small bump in it but her complexion was as clear as the sincerity I thought I saw in her face. Her black slacks were frayed at the cuffs and her shoes had seen too many days but I noticed that her fingernails were neatly trimmed and covered in natural polish. I thought she was beautiful when she smiled.
She had dropped out of high school when she discovered she was pregnant and at 16 years of age, married her high school sweetheart, 18 and a mechanic's helper at the local garage. Both sets of parents kicked them out and they spent their first year of marriage at a family shelter. She was skilled at mending clothes and went to work at a dry cleaning establishment for minimum wage; he attended night classes at the community college. When their son entered kindergarten, she finished night school, earning a high school diploma. Today, her husband has his own auto repair shop; she takes in sewing and their son has a little sister. She explained that times aren't as hard as they once were, but "easy street" is a long way into their future.
"I'd like to go to college," she told me. "Maybe become a teacher's assistant. I like little kids. I need two years to get my associate's degree. Then I could work at the elementary where my kids go to school."
I told her I thought that was a wonderful goal and wished her well.
"I s'pose you're wondering why I'm here by myself eating a meal without my kids." Before I could respond, she rushed to give me an explanation. "I read in a magazine that a woman can get old real fast if she only lives for her family and never takes time for herself. So, a couple of times a month I treat myself to a day off - buy myself a sandwich somewhere or go window shopping or take a library book and go to the park to read. I always wear something I really like, like this blouse," she smiled as she stroked the silk fabric. "It makes me feel beautiful and then I go home and life is better because I love myself as much as I love my husband and our kids. Does that make sense?"
Yes, it makes a lot of sense. When you love yourself for who you are and not what you look like or how much money you have, others are more easily drawn to you. She soon had to leave to pick up her children; I told her I enjoyed our conversation and we said goodbye.
I watched my blouse as she walked away, the silk fabric just as glorious as when I bought it. The emerald green color was beautiful on her, lighting her face and it fit her so well. I think it was an even lovelier garment today than when I bought it because the blouse made her feel so beautiful when she put it on. I remember how much I loved it when I had worn it. I can't help thinking... now that she owns this blouse... and I'm so glad she does... I love it even more... on her.