When I first wore the dress, I felt so much better. It was lighter than all the clothes I had brought. But surprisingly, it was also the topic of discussion of a fellow traveler in our group. The dress was everything that I didn’t normally exude of my personality. It was an embodiment of the ideal me.
For the past few months before the trip, I was cutting back on all my random (unneeded) purchases—clothing, replacing broken items, refilling essentials, impulsive gift-giving…and my selfish and generous side was suppressed until the moment I stepped in a country where I was led to believe everything was worth buying.
At the touristy floating market, I spotted a colorful dress on the wall, placed carefully next to other knee-length single color dresses.
A few months earlier, I had walked by Charlotte Russe in the mall and hesitated, not wanting to spend money that I didn’t have. Chris guided me back to the store, encouraging me to look at the displays. Then I unleashed my inner student studying the way they had layered clothes. I observed and marked in my mental notebook that bright colors that seem to clash go well underneath an outer layer of a single color.
Having always been a conservative dresser, I was now affected by the urban lifestyle of San Francisco. Working at a design studio, I felt that I could not just wear my plain colored tops and bottoms. There had to be a slight effect, a slight unique, personal touch. It had taken me years to be comfortable with wearing tank tops and spaghetti straps (tube tops don’t work on me though). And only recently, mini-skirts swung my way.
So there was this dress. Brightly colored. Thin fabric. Patch work. If worse comes to worse, I could always cover it with my long cardigan with a hint of color.
“That is pretty,” a saleswoman said as I was looking at it. She immediately brought it down from the wall with a pole.
“Will this fit me?” I asked holding dress in front of me.
She nodded in response. “How much?” I asked.
That was almost $30 USD. I hesitated, but because I really wanted the dress and could not walk away…I counter-offered 700 baht which she quickly accepted (later I found out that everything in there was over-priced and I could have gotten it for 350 baht).
On the way to Koh Lanta, I decided to wear the dress. I was tired of wearing clothing that felt uncomfortable, not built for the weather. Later, Geeta had told me (repeatedly) that she was surprised by the dress. The brightly colored dress that fit me perfectly. And complemented the tan that kept getting darker.
“Don’t wear that silly cardigan,” she told me. “Show off!”
On my last day on the islands, I pranced around in the dress with no cardigan. I walked up to the viewing point of Koh Phi Phi in socks in walking shoes…with that dress. At dinner, I ate fish and curry…and stayed outside when it started raining. Then I walked with the group down to the bars where I made small talk with strangers (in a non-alcohol-induced state).
When I returned to the states, I immediately washed the dress through a gentle cycle and air dryed it. It’s sitting in a bag with the other dresses I purchased, waiting until my sister or I decide to wear it.
Being so colorful isn’t really me, but being surprisingly different is.