Jessai Flores

I rifle through my going-out clothing options, which have transformed into an amorphous pile of sequins and spaghetti straps. My phone is blowing up with messages like “Come upstairs so we can do our makeup together!” and “send me a pic of the fit IMMEDIATELY.” I absentmindedly tug at a piece of green ribbon that I notice resembles a four leaf clover. I smile to myself, envisioning what I wish I could be wearing —  the girl I want to be.

A pleated green dress hangs neatly in a closet. A belt of ribbon wreaths along the waistline, and a full skirt tapers delicately above the knee. It was stunning: flattering in all the right places, glistening when grazed by light and commanding attention from all observers.

This is the story of that dress. 

Jane, dejected, had just broken up with Billy Angle, the guy she had been going steady with for years. Her roommates were insistent that this slump shouldn’t drag her down. It’s downtown New York in the sixties, when comedy, art, music, poetry and culture were blossoming. If Jane wasn’t going to turn her frown upside down, then by god, her friends would have to do it for her. 

Despite her protests, Jane went to a party her roommate’s friend was throwing. But if she was forced to socialize, then she might as well look good while doing it. The party was a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Thankfully, Jane’s good friend Wes had just talked her into buying the perfect dress for the occasion on their most recent shopping trip to 5th Avenue. 

All dolled up and resplendent in shamrock green, Jane entered the party feeling better. It didn’t take long for her to notice a handsome fella across the room and for him to approach her. They spent the entire party fixated on one another. With the woes of her heartbreak completely forgotten, Jane let Jack take her for a romantic walk along the river, and eventually, home.

And that was that. In what Jane refers to as a “typical New York story” my grandparents fell in love. Throughout my childhood, I’d ask her to tell the story again and again. In my mind’s eye, I would picture myself donning the dress instead, pretending I had some sort of high falutin occasion to wear such an extravagant outfit to. The dress symbolizes a romanticized fantasy of love I yearned for as a girl — I hoped to get older and fall head over heels just like Grandma Jane did.

Now, I am the young woman living away from home. My roommates and friends kindly offer holographic plumping lipgloss and unrestricted access to their much better curated closets. I laugh with them when they share scorchingly truthful opinions about my type in men. And when the going gets tough, they provide the warmest hugs, the most cry-worthy sad playlists and a myriad of other comforts I am so lucky to have. 

I am closer and closer to having some version of my own green dress moment of fairy-tale kismet. But I’ve realized that I focused on the wrong part of the story. My grandma’s friends nagged her because they loved her. 

Jane’s friend Wes convinced her to buy a show stopping dress, even though it was outside of her comfort zone. Wes wanted Jane to feel sure of her beauty. Jane’s roommates dragged her to the St. Patty’s party because they knew she deserved better than to wallow in the sadness of her breakup. 

Without them, she would have never met her future husband. And more importantly, thanks to the support of her friends, Jane gained confidence in herself and started moving through the world more boldly. 

I don’t have the retrospect about my young adult life that my grandmother has now. I also don’t have a magic green dress in my closet. But I do have meaningful people in my life encouraging me to make my own luck. Whether it be through attending murder mystery parties, live jazz performances or even casual suite hangs, my friends and I dress up and go out because we know that if we’re together, it’ll be a good time.

ELIZA JOSEPHSON