Monday, March 23, 2015

The White Dress

The White Dress from inside looking towards The Real Mother Goose

I was waiting at Stop 8333, for the Max traveling east. This is the next stop on the suburban side of Pioneer Square in front of The Real Mother Goose. It was about 9:30 on a Tuesday evening. No longer early, not yet late, the street lights seemed harsh, other waiting riders were still, barely breathing, shapeless, anonymous, like heaps of rags dipped in a mud bath. Probably just my mood.

I watched a young woman adjust a wedding dress. 

The White Dress is a bridal shop directly on the other side of the tracks from Stop 8333. In the window are two mannikins in pure white wedding gowns: lacy, layered chiffon and satin.  Behind the mannikins, the room is large. A row of dresses, all white, hangs along either side, creating a corridor, or maybe a walk-in closet fit for the cast of an opera. Every corner of the store shines white except the dark, gleaming, wood floor. Two chandeliers cast a soft, searching light from above, but much of the glow seems to emanate from unseen sources. 

The display artist wore a brown jacket over a forest green shirt, with black tights. Her hair was a popular shade of red -- burnt ochre, maybe. Serenely, she adjusted a dress. She was behind the "bride," maybe pinning together a fold to pull the gown snug. The whole magisterial work of art moved an inch. 

The woman then came around the front of the mannikin and made miniscule adjustments to the shoulders. She smoothed the front, and as her hand traveled, she looked over at me suddenly, as if she'd been watching me watch her. She looked boldly, holding my glance for about three seconds. The thought occurred to me to look away but no, I gazed back at her. 

She broke the eye contact and stepped back from the bride, assessing. She then turned directly away from the window and crouched to shape the bottom edge of the gown. Seconds later, in one move she stood and turned to face me. A different look on her face. Caught, embarrassed, I turned away. 

I suddenly remembered that my daughter has accused me of dressing "like a hobo." Though I had been imagining myself a charming bystander, silently admiring the artist at work, I now realized that she may have been thinking of me differently than I was. 

After a moment I glanced over and she was still working, partially behind the second mannikin, facing out in my direction. Fussing with the hair. I turned my head away so my attention seemed to be elsewhere, but I was cutting my eyes her way. I saw her checking on me and so turned away and walked a few steps. 

The Max pulled up between us. I took a seat on the near bench. As the train moved, she had come around the mannikin to stand looking out the window. We shared a final second of eye contact.

Ruminating on the woman in The White Dress, I thought of my wife. In a few months we'll have a 20 year anniversary. That is a chunk of a life, almost a third of mine. I feel lucky. The chunk has been more difficult at times than I would have liked, less prosperous, with less wisdom gained (on my part) than I might have liked But I declare the chunk to have been good, with many good laughs and a loving, talented daughter. All the credit goes to my wife, who actually knows a few things about marriage. 

And though a wedding day belongs, above all, to the Woman in the White Dress, the trip that follows is shared, like a Max ride at night.

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