arts & music health sisterhood

Bespoke

by Wendy — September 3, 2013

collage_dtl_02When I was a little girl of about four or five, I was made to wear this dress for some unknown reason, for a now forgotten occasion: it was white on top and violet on the bottom, and smack in the middle of the chest was an embroidered appliqué of a crocodile, mouth wide open (thank you, Lacan). The woolly monstrosity was scratchy around the neck, scratchy around the armpits. The dress was miserably itchy. I was miserably itchy. I protested vehemently, cried, screamed, threw a tantrum—what possible reason could there be for subjecting anybody to the injustice of a hot, itchy dress?

Decades past girlhood, I find myself roosting in that itchy dress. Horror of unspeakable horrors. Maybe you all already know this, but in times of extreme stress, there is a comfortable familiarity, a pleasurable unpleasure (thank you, Freud), in the tendency to go back to being miserably itchy. Sometimes it’s so we can have a reason to repeatedly wail and scream without the burden of doing anything about it. Sometimes it’s easier to let the devil we know gallantly swoop in so we can get a little rest. Sometimes we don’t know what we want.  Sometimes the words won’t come.

collage_dtl_01Extricating oneself out of the imaginary itchy dress and its impossibly tenacious hold isn’t so easy either. (Where’s that psychic Jaws of Life when one needs it the most?) Replacing it isn’t as simple as picking another one off-the-rack. It can’t be bought, it can’t be received as a gift, and most of all, it can’t be donned like a cheap costume. That new dress—in fact, the entire powerful, feminine wardrobe—has to be imagined out loud, fashioned from one’s depths, and owned like nobody’s business.

Many times I know to say not that—not that itchy dress, not that routine, not that path—but draw a blank when asked but what? And many times I unconsciously latch on to what others desire, unintentionally appropriating someone else’s wants, unknowingly silencing what’s truly, intentionally, inconveniently mine. A friend recently told me that some answers are not necessarily meant to be found. Some answers, she said wisely, come to be by being created.

So start already, I tell myself. Dream with eyes open, speak what’s been left unspoken, make, plant, rip, glue, birth what’s crying to be birthed. All a bit abstract, but this is as far as I’ve gotten. At least my journal is filling up, my sketchbook is getting fatter by the day, and my fingers remain crossed.

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  • Bridget

    Wendy, you’re collages are absolutely gorgeous! I think you’ve been holding out on us! Interestingly, you seem to be in a similar limbo to where I was the last time I posted in July. Sigh. I need to go visit you. Let’s have a vacation!

  • Irma

    loving your collages, why haven’t you posted them before?….and i’m kind of in limbo, too…in the midst of struggling to create something to hold on to….it’s chaotic, challenging and confusing but it’s something.

  • Roving Altruist

    THIS: “Sometimes it’s so we can have a reason to repeatedly wail and scream without the burden of doing anything about it. Sometimes it’s easier to let the devil we know gallantly swoop in so we can get a little rest. Sometimes we don’t know what we want. Sometimes the words won’t come.”

    We all have an “itchy dress” (or pants or shirt) we strive to break free from. I like the idea of using creativity as a tool to propel us forward and help us find our way. Figure out what we want. A lovely post!

  • k

    Well put Wendy! I so wish I didn’t know what the heck you were talking about. What?Evil imaginary itchy dress? What does that feel like!?! I wish I was swooning in my silky smooth loveliness cluelessly but oh well, that’s life I guess.:)

  • Hazel

    To my fellow sojourner Wendy, I wish you well on your journey. Better the crocodiles that test our resolve than the crocodiles that give us allergic reactions. Forbid that such allergic reactions may actually lead to anaphylactic shock!
    “Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.” – Walt Whitman
    May we all find our Home at the end of the search. Bonne chance et bon courage!