Something to ponder on a snowy night
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Finding the right one

As Mom and I plowed through bridal shop after bridal shop, leaving swaths of silk and lace in our wake, we talked. And talked and talked and talked, as Mom and I are wont to do. Inevitably one of us would say, “Last time…” as in, “I’m glad you’re here. Last time I bought a wedding dress, I went alone. It was no fun.”

Each time the phrase was said, we’d wince.

It feels…unseemly to bring up the specter of the marriage that went before. It’s not like we can pretend I was never married before (there is the small matter of three little boys), but to drag out the fact of it even while struggling into some poufy white icon of virginity…well, it just didn’t feel right.

I find myself doing that a lot, however, mentally holding up what went before against what is happening now. I suppose there should be lessons to learn from the contrast. Instead, I just marvel at the differences. They are two different worlds.

I told a friend the other day that everyone should get the chance to fall in love in their thirties. When I was in my twenties, falling in love was sort of like a car accident. It happened TO me, was chaotic and out of my control, and turned my life upside down. And it rather hurt. This love, on the other hand, has been more like stepping into a dance. More graceful and grace-filled by far.

After trying on what seemed like a thousand dresses, I narrowed my choices to my top three. I took my mom and my friend Amy, and dragged them around town so they could help me choose. Before we looked at any of them I had a favorite quietly held in mind. At the end of the dress odyssey, we all agreed it was the dress I wanted most. We stopped for lunch, and Amy went on her way.

I sat at the table with Mom, both of us squeezing edamame pods until the beans slipped out and into our mouths. We talked over the merits of the Top Three, then in a lull I said,

“You know what I want to do before we go buy the first dress? This is gonna sound weird.” She waited. “I want to go home and try on the dress from my first wedding.”

Totally didn’t faze her. She nodded.

“Let’s go.”

We went home, and I hauled the box out of my closet, off the shelf. Don’t ask me WHY I still have the dress. After the wedding it was shoved in the back of my closet, still in its plastic bag, for seven years. When I heard that this was bad for the fabric (sometime around year four), I unzipped the bag and hoped that was air enough to save it. But I didn’t actually get around to having it cleaned and boxed until AFTER my husband had left. Then it became some sort of issue with me. Who knows what was in my mind then? I was insane.

But I did have it cleaned and preserved and boxed, just so I could shove it on a shelf in the high back of my closet and uncomfortably avert my eyes when I went in there.

I got it down off its shelf and dismantled its sarcophagus-like box. As I lifted the last lid, I held my breath. I remember I loved my dress, but I didn’t remember what it looked like, really.

It looked…smaller than I remembered. I lifted it out of the tissue paper, and it was so light and insubstantial. I slipped out of my jeans, pulled my sweater over my head, and stepped into the dress. I pulled the zipper up and turned to face myself in the mirror.

It was like wearing a costume, and I looked at a very young bride. It was such a lighthearted dress, flirty and floaty. I touched my bare shoulder and remembered, across what seemed like a great expanse of time, the child I was, stepping out into a future I couldn’t possibly understand. For the first time in a long time I felt compassion for her and her foolish choices. There was so much I didn’t understand, but I loved as truly as I could, and was forever changed in the process.

There is no shame for me to carry with me from that marriage. It could have worked. It didn’t. But God is good and second chances are sweeter than I could have imagined.

I took the dress off and carefully repacked it in its box. I still don’t know what to do with it, but I know I don’t need to keep it anymore.

I put it aside and went out to buy a new dress.

It’s beautiful, soft and womanly and romantic. It’s perfect.



That is so lovely, as are you. Thank you for sharing with us.


This was so lovely. I'm glad that you found the dress for this love. (And a bit jealous that your other dress still fits.)




I. just. love you. SO MUCH. *smooch*


beautifully done, as always. a very evocative post!


I got engaged for the first time when I was 20, and I completely agree with your assessment of young love vs. more mature love. My first engagement got as far as buying a wedding dress before self-destructing. In retrospect, I'm incredibly relieved that this happened BEFORE we got married, but at the time it was devastating. It took me years to fully recover, and even now the scar is a bit tender at times. I kept the dress.

Five years post-breakup I became engaged to the man who is now my husband, and one of the first wedding-related questions I asked him was whether he wanted me to buy a new dress or if I could use the old one (which he had never seen). Being a pragmatic soul, he said that seeing as the old dress was never even used, I was welcome to wear it if I wanted. The dress was somewhat iconic for me; during the bitter years post-breakup, it was my reproach. I would occasionally unzip the storage bag and look at it and taste the loss again. But I had always loved the dress and I thought it was perfect for me, and upon examining it as a newly engaged late-20s woman I found that I still loved it. More importantly, it still fit! Somehow I felt that wearing my old dress would redeem it and tie up loose ends in my life, and I think it did. I feel only joy when I look at my wedding dress now. (Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that you ought to wear YOUR old dress, heavens no, the only reason this worked for me was because I'd never actually gotten married in my old dress, so it represented only uncompleted hopes.) I'm so very glad you found the right dress for your second chance!


You have a gift for words and if anyone deserves a second chance, it's you, truly.

Amma D

I am so honored to have been involved in this event. The searching, the choosing...the being your mom. It was a rich thing - shopping with you through the miles of dresses and finding that lovely, lovely dress for my lovely, lovely daughter. Thanks for inviting me.


I was already feeling choked when I read your post, then reading the comment from your mum.....soggy tissue time. I'm so pleased that you are so happy and fulfilled; I love reading your blog, I found you via Mir's astounding writing, and you are one of my daily fixes now.


My first marriage happend when I was 20. 6 years later, just 2 weeks before our 6th anniversary, we were divorced. It was almost like being hit by a truck. Very painful.
I met my husband as a blind date about 3 years after my divorce. We have been inseparable since.


How wonderful to find a new blog to read (through Mir's interview at mommybloggers) and have this post be the first one I encounter.

I have both a 20-something marriage and a 30-something marriage under my belt and the second time around is SO much better for so many reasons. I love the way you wrote about this -- very well put.

Heather Cook

I so know where you are. I was married the first time in March 2001 and divorced by March 2003. I was 23 years old and thought I knew it all. I thought that we were in love, but it was always so much work. After our son was born the marriage just disintegrated.

My current husband and I have been married two months and eight days (heehee!) and he is the love of my life. Our love is so easy! It's uncomplicated and very strong.

I too went through the 'last time' conversations prior to this marriage. I made an effort to do things totally different... hell, we even eloped!


Thank you for making me WANT to believe again.


Kira - I am delurking to let you know how much I loved this and how much I love reading about this journey you are on. I found you from Mir's blog, and I think you are just scrumptious. God bless you and all the best!


Ok, we know you have a life, and Thanksgiving, and a wedding to plan, and you're moving soon, so since you're not that busy, could you post sometime soon? Some of us are starting to have withdrawls. Priorities woman, sheesh.

bag lady

Yes, priorities woman! I bet you have your laptop with you...and you are in a building big enough to find space for a little quiet. Go get Appa, give him the three boys, and take your laptop and give us just a little, man...we just need a little to get us through the next few days. (Sniff).


I'm on year 7 of my second chance. Well worth the leap. (((HUGS)))

Mary Jo

HEY! Come back!! haha. Hope you had a great Holiday with your family.


Kira, today is the 29th of November. Can't you even blog about how busy you are? This is a whiny way to say it but we love you and we miss you.

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