How are you getting through these scary times — times that find us wrestling with an evil virus and significant (and necessary) political unrest and calls to action? If I ponder too long on the surreal times we are living in my brain starts to warp. My unconscious reaction (I’ve just realized it, so now it’s conscious ;.)) has been to return to a favorite playtime from my childhood: dress-up. Back in the mid to late 70s, my mom provided me and my brother a wonderful brown box called the “dress-up box.” This sturdy box had an odd waxy exterior to it, with a lid that was easy to pull off and on. When afternoons dragged in the summer or winter months, out came the dress-up box. It was here that my current love of vintage nightgowns was born. Of the many treasures in the dress-up box, one was a silky bottle-green nightgown that had a wispy layer of sheer material over the skirt and a lace bodice. Of course, it was way too long and I’d stumble down the hallway, tripping over the slippery material with the straps falling off my little shoulders, but oh did I love this nightgown! I was QUEEN! Other treasures that my brother and a selection of young friends and faux-cousins all put on at some point included an Army shirt, red pointy heels that were meant for no human to actually walk in, some of Dad’s cast-off oxfords, a kimono, yellow house dress, many plastic necklaces, and variety of costume jewelry in loud and cheerful colors.
It seems I’ve returned to this childhood practice to brighten up my mornings as I get ready for work. I’ve pretty much given up lipstick, my favorite makeup, since masks rub it off and there doesn’t seem to be a point to wearing it, as when I do see people I’m masked. I’m trying to learn how to do eye shadow, but part of me doesn’t care. But since I’m an avid thrifter, my closet has now evolved into the dress-up box of latter years. Today I took a picture of my outfit, giggling with delight at my semi-Betty Draper look: a vintage green & white flower dress with plastic embellishments on the neckline ($3), wonderful mules from Italy ($4) that I’ll only wear for half the day (I brought my flats), and pearl earrings from a wedding I was in long ago. Who will see me? Not many people – probably just my colleague who is in the office next to me, offices that are above a stairwell flanked by locked doors. Meetings are online or by phone, so this dress-up is just for me – to lift my spirits as I walk through these traumatic times. I challenge you to find something you loved as a child and return to it – incorporate it into your day, because the childlike joy you experience will be so worth it. Now, go “dress-up” or break out the crayons, the finger-paint, the Lincoln Logs or badminton set. I promise, it’ll be worth it!