OK, so it seemed like a good idea at first…I saw it on Pinterest. It had worked for the pinner. How yucky could it really be?
So I sent Rich to Walmart to buy duct tape. He came back with two rolls…that should be enough, but it was glow-in-the-dark YELLOW! What-ever.
So I dig through my drawers and find the perfect skin tight sleeveless tee shirt…it’s black. I put it on. Rich is taking his part in this little project quite seriously; I knew he would, it’s the meticulously compulsive part of his personality.
So now he’s in charge of everything… What-ever.
I’m glad I’m wearing my old lady orthopedic shoes since I have to stand in the same place for a good hour.
“Can you breathe?”
“Of course I can breathe!” Okay, maybe I snapped a little when he asked, but in my defense, I was trying to stave off this creepy claustrophobic feeling that was building.
When Rich leaves to find a pair of scissors, I inch my way across the room to a mirror. OMG! I look like the Oscar Meyer Hot Dog Truck. I’m wrapped chest to hips in glow-in-the-dark YELLOW duct tape, I look ridiculous but how else would I look?
He’s back. “Okay,” he says, “now comes the tricky part. Stand still while I cut this down your spine.”
“OH MY LORD! WHAT are you using to cut me out of this electric mummy wrap?”
“A utility knife”, he says, as if it’s EVER okay to cut your wife out of glow-in-the-dark YELLOW duct tape sausage skin with a utility knife.
He looks serious but he’s laughing. I can’t imagine anything remotely funny at the moment, but I bite none-the-less. “What’s so funny Vincent?”
“Vincent, Vincent Price.”
“Oh, I get it. Well, it’s just with those black shoulder straps sticking out you sort of look like a bumble bee.”
“Ha. Ha” I say, knowing it’s true.
“Couldn’t you find the scissors?”
“Yeah, but they’re not gonna cut through three layers of duct tape, honey. You’ll be okay; I promise.”
The next five minutes were excruciating and twice I felt the tip of that torturous utility knife touch the surface of my skin. And you’d better believe I made a real show of it!
“All done”, he said, relieved to be leaving the room.
So here’s the story; this is how it began, and why. I wanted an exact replica of my body to put over a dress form that in no way resembles my body any more. How can I expect to make clothes that actually fit without a non-subjective method of perceiving the raw truth?
This project wasn’t a decision I made blithely; no, actually I was quite terrified. Through the years I’ve grown comfy with looking at myself from the chin up…all the other parts seem woefully unimportant to me these days. But sewing patterns aren’t what they used to be. They never match actual dress sizes, so I had to find a way to start.
I can sew accurately for anyone but myself. Everything I make to wear is either pixie tiny or circus- big-top. Repeatedly I fail self-perception, miserably. I think I need a precision aid to help find my way across my bountiful ego into the brutally difficult realm of reality.
So now I’m sitting with myself, literally, in the sewing room. I shift uncomfortably in the chair. Headless mannequin stares straight ahead wearing a long sleeve tee. When I find the courage, I’ll stuff one of her arms till it matches the scary dimensions of one of my own. (I’ll have to involve Rich in that measurement process, because I tend to cheat.)
I breathe in deeply through my nose, exhale purposefully from my mouth. Silence fills my brain until my head feels stuffy and light at the same time, like a cranium crammed full of popcorn.
“Far out”, I whisper.
“That’s an old lady in front of me. Whoo-eeeeeeeee.” Slowly the sound of my voice disappears in the void the sewing room has become.
I can’t say how much time passed, but I found myself smiling at the nonmistable me across the room. And feeling a real kinship.
“Can you remember”, I asked, “climbing those trees with Sue and Dale when we were a little kid? Their legs were longer than we were tall”….Then I remembered dancing with a nice variety of young men, my hair trailing in the air as I swirled in ever widening circles.
In time I was walking down the aisle in the church chapel, Father at my side, my heart pounding so loudly I could barely hear the organ playing.
And now I’m having one baby and then another, and there is so much love I can barely breathe.
I can see myself playing in the park with my daughters, experience the radiance of their bright, beautiful shining faces; and remember how I knew from the inside out that nothing would ever be more important to me than they were, and that the cycles and patterns of all my life would shift around their own, and that in the end, after having had children of their own, they would share the same amazing feelings as me.
Even the darkness, as it came, was surreally beautiful, divorce and tragedy, death and endings, because the silver lining was quick on its tail, whisking tears away, replacing them with understanding and peace.
Then Rich was before the two of us, and all the joy he brought to our lives burst in brilliant colors, and when I laughed aloud, I wondered if mannequin me had laughed too. Then each of the grandchildren, my siblings and parents all walked into the room, but before I could say anything I was tubing down the river with my children.
There was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and bursts of wonder at the fourth of July fireworks over Clear Lake. There were friends and amazing relationships. And the paunchy body across the room had shared all of this with me, each perfect step juxtaposed serious gravity while time took its toll on human flesh.
What a beautiful evolution my life has been, and how many more miles I plan on walking, or skipping. How many days I plan to hug my grown daughters and marvel at the good work they’ve done. How many more times will I hear a grandchild ask for Nonnie?
Oh, this was an excellent project. It healed scrapes and scratches I acquired along the journe, although that wasn’t the reason I’d done it.
All I wanted was a decent fitting blouse,
and yet, I got so much more.