Thursday, June 9, 2011

Frocks and Frets

When I was 3 years old, my mom took me to the candy store in our town and told me I could choose one thing. ANY one thing. This store was, like, the Maine version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with gigantic chocolate moose heads galore, delicious, mouth watering chocolate covered blueberries, those gummy coke bottles that now disgust me but seemed so yummy when I was young, saltwater taffy, etc. (I worked there as a teenager so I know their selection pretty well. Lotta accidents involving chocolate dropped on the floor happened while I was their employee.)

When I couldn't decide right away, my mom told me I had two minutes to make up my mind.

At the end of the two minutes, she took me out of the store. I was kicking and screaming, and I did not have any candy. The candy store lady remembers the incident to this day.

I wish I could say my decision-making skills have improved in the past 29 years, but really, I can't say that they have. Most of my life decisions I've made pretty much by playing some version of eeny-meeny-miney-moe, and even minor decisions sometimes paralyze me.

For instance, I've been shopping recently for a dress to wear as bridesmaid at my sister's wedding in August. I'm the only bridesmaid, so I have full authorization to pick whatever dress I want -- any color, style, etc. I went shopping a couple of weeks ago, and found two dresses that I liked: one cost $240 and was on final sale; the other cost $125 and could be returned for a full refund.

I was able to narrow it down to the two dresses, no problem. But that's where I became totally stuck. So, I did the logical thing and took pictures of myself in both dresses, bought the dress that was cheaper and returnable, and then sent the photos to everyone I know to ask their advice.

Turns out that everyone was on pretty much the same page. They all liked the more expensive dress (which I'll call #2), NOT the one pictured to the right that I had bought (#1). My friends Miami Nice and Ms. B both voted for #2. My mentor at school ooohed over the first dress, until she saw the second one and liked it much better. My mom sent the following cryptic email regarding dress #1: "Hi Heathen,
I like this dress so so. It is very short and I think I prefer one color.
Love, Mom."

There was just one exception... MY SISTER. The bride. The one who I'd be wearing the dress for. She liked dress #1, and wasn't crazy about #2. At this point, I should have just asked myself which one *I* liked better, but I was so divorced from my own perceptions that I had no idea. I threw caution to the wind and spent $240 on the second dress, figuring that it would probably look better on me if 99% of my friends preferred it.

Dreamy is moving in in a couple of weeks for the summer, until his September move to New York, another major life decision that I've worried about at times (not as big a decision as what dress to wear to my sister's wedding, of course!). He will be the third boyfriend I've moved in with, if you count my temporary stints at my ex-boyfriend l'Artista's. We have talked a lot about how we both want things to work out between us, but we are also very different, and there are plenty of times that I worry that things won't work out and that I'm being naive by hoping that they will. And then I worry that if I'm worried after 9 months things are definitely doomed. While Dreamy seems very well-adjusted on the surface, underneath he's got some heavy baggage that he doesn't readily show. I made a joke the other night about how he seems like an open book, but actually he's an open book written with invisible ink; Dreamy thought it was very apt. But when I think about my own baggage that Dreamy has been so kind about, and how much I care about him, and how wonderful it is that he's able to talk about his baggage with me, I feel very lucky and hopeful.

Sometimes I wish I had a life coach who would tell me what to do, which dress will make me look best, whether Dreamy is a hopeless cause, what I should do with my career, even what I should eat for breakfast (sometimes I sit and stare at the choices for a good ten minutes). Since I don't have one, I guess I'll just rely on my imperfect instincts and maybe a few rounds of eeny meeny miney moe, hope that I look okay at my sister's wedding, and that the fact that Dreamy really loves me and wants to make things work is enough. Because, as I learned from my mother when I was three, it's better to make a decision than to stay on the fence. People who stay on the fence end up with nothing.

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