Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Ones that Got Away

We had a conversation today at lunch about things we didn't buy when we were sorely tempted, and how the memory of those things lingers years later. In my case there were two items I've always wished I had pursued. The first was a Japanese netsuke cat, beautifully carved in ivory, and curled into a sleeping posture. I saw it in London in about 1969 or 1970, in a shop window. For some reason it screamed out to me. I had just left my two beloved cats behind in Santa Cruz and come to live in Europe, and I was missing them terribly. But we were fairly broke, and the netsuke cat was somewhat expensive, and so I didn't pursue it - but I still think of how it looked in that window, and how it would have been to own it. I've never seen one like it since. Grrrrrrrrrr......The other item was a dress. It must have been around 1968. My parents were having their first holiday party in their fancy new home in Maryland. I had flown in from my hippie life in California to spend some time with my parents. Nothing I had brought with me was good enough to wear to the coming party, according to my mother. She decided it would be a good excuse for the two of us to go to New York on a shopping expedition, and she offered to buy me something suitable to wear. What followed was an excruciating day in some of the big New York department stores, where she tried to get me to look like she wanted me to look (plaid gingham satin gathered long skirt - ick!). Finally I found a dress that I loved. It was a long, pale pink knitted sweater dress, with an A-line skirt to the floor, long sleeves, and a high collar. Knitted into the fabric was an overall pattern of white animals in silhouette. It fit me beautifully and the pink was great with my blonde hair and light complexion. I thought the dress looked terrific on me, and that it would have been great for her party. My Mom saw it differently and flatly refused to let me get it. We had a huge fight over it, and I ended up getting nothing at all. But I've always thought about that dress, how perfect it was, and how sad that I had to leave it there.

Does anybody else have memories of things they didn't pursue in the past that still live with them today?


Rexroth's Daughter said...

I can picture that pink knit dress, and it would have looked great on you!

There's a skirt that I was dying for when I was 12 or 13. Every time we went to that particular store I looked at it. My parents wouldn't buy it for me, no matter how I tried to persuade them. But finally, one day they relented and we went, but the skirt was gone. It's been 40 years, and I can still picture it.

Interestingly for me, though, it's more about what I gave up than what I couldn't get a hold of! I moved a lot and gave up a lot of stuff that I wish I still had.

Luna gardener said...

I sure do remember those shopping trips to New York with my mother!
I was never built for patent leather and itchy petticoats, while we covered blocks of stores on Saks 5th ave. Glad you survived, my sense of fashion was ruined by those experiences.

Sigrid Jardin said...

RD, I'd love to see your post on things you gave away and wish you hadn't. I'm at the stage of wishing I could give most of my stuff away, and wondering what I would regret losing! Sorry you didn't get that skirt.....

Luna, I guess I survived, but I don't have what you would call a fashion sense. I really couldn't care less about fashion! My mother admired a cousin of mine who had the looks of a model and cared passionately about her looks. I always thought that they should have been mother and daughter - they would have been much happier together!