Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Perfect Dress by Marisa de los Santos

It’s here in a student’s journal, a blue confession in smudged, erasable ink: “I can’t stop hoping I’ll wake up, suddenly beautiful,” and isn’t it strange how we want it, despite all we know? To be at last the girl in the photography, cobalt-eyed, hair puddling like cognac, or the one stretched at the ocean’s edge, curved and light-drenched, more like a beach than the beach.

I confess I have longed to stalk runways, leggy, otherworldly as a mantis, to balance a head like a FabergĂ© egg on the longest, most elegant neck. Today in the checkout line, I saw a magazine claiming to know “How to Find the Perfect Dress for that Perfect Evening,” and I felt the old pull, flare of the pilgrim’s twin flames, desire and faith.

At fifteen, I spent weeks at the search. Going from store to store, hands thirsty for shine, I reached for polyester satin, machine-made lace, petunia- and Easter egg-colored, brilliant and flammable. Nothing haute about this couture but my hopes for it, as I tugged it on and waited for my one, true body to emerge. (Picture the angel inside uncut marble, articulation of wings and robes poised in expectation of release.)

What I wanted was ordinary miracle, the falling away of everything wrong. Silly maybe or maybe I was right, that there’s no limit to the ways eternity suggests itself, that one day I’ll slip into it, say floor-length plum charmeuse. Someone will murmur, “She is sublime,” will be precisely right, and I will step, with incandescent shoulders, into my perfect evening.


  1. I know what you mean about hoping to wake up "suddenly beautiful." Supposedly it wouldn't make me any happier, but I'd like the opportunity to disprove that!

  2. No one writes more beautifully than Ms. de los Santos. Delicate words woven into tensile steel. When I'm done reading her works, I don't have to ask--I know.

  3. i dont think its really about being beautiful. more like not being normal. Being unique a Faberge