“you’re like a beautiful j.crew dress.” i said.
sure, it was an odd comparison, but i like metaphors, especially when they involve clothing and especially when the involve j.crew. i was actually quite impressed with how i could relate a dating dilemma to a frock from my favorite prep-style apparel company without it sounding completely obtuse. if anything, it made him laugh.
i went on.
“you’re like that dress that i see in the window and am immediately drawn to. i love everything about it -its patterns and colors, its cut and shape. its price is even on point. it has so many qualities i look for in a dress and i can’t wait to find my size and make it mine. the only problem is that when i go searching, i come up empty-handed. and let’s pretend there aren’t any local stores that carry it and it can’t be ordered online. otherwise this totally negates my metaphor…”
he laughed again. it was clear i was humoring him with my ability to draw ridiculous comparisons. see? i always told you i make life fun.
“now true, i could try to manipulate my body into squeezing into the smaller size. i could buy spanx or hold my breath for hours on end in order to get the zipper closed. or, i could buy the bigger size and take it to a tailor to have it perfectly fit to my curves. but the first option sounds extremely painful (and maybe deadly? i don’t think you can hold your breath for more than like two minutes) and the second, well, i’m terrible about taking stuff to the tailor. i’d probably get the dress home and never actually end up wearing it. and that’s just a waste of money…”
there was silence on the other end of the phone and i had feared for a moment i had lost him in this elaborate story i had concocted. but then he made a noise and i knew i still had at least one last iota of his attention. way to stick it out, sir. i attempted to wrap it up.
“anyway, when it comes down to it, it should be easy. i should be able to see the dress in the window, walk into the store, find my size, slip it on, pay at the register, and walk out looking fabulous. plain and simple. but unfortunately it’s not that easy. in order to get what i want, i have to settle for a not quite right version. and while it might be a fair alternative in the short term, over time, i’d come to realize that maybe that dress never belonged in my closet anyway. though, just because i can’t have the dress doesn’t negate its innate beauty. i still have the same affections for the dress regardless of the fact that i can’t make it mine. objectively it’s a lovely dress. just maybe not lovely for me.”
i let out a sigh. had i really just likened a grown man to a woman’s garment? yes, yes i had. but regardless of its ridiculousness, he seemed to get it (thank goodness).
“you’re that dress,” i concluded. and at the end of the day, i really really like you. but you unfortunately don’t come in my size. so regardless of how much i want to take you home and incorporate you in my life, it’s probably best that i leave the store without you.”
i climbed out of my crazy metaphor and entered back to the land of literal conversation. we continued to talk like two grown adults. he spoke, i listened. i spoke, he listened. for the first time in a long time, i felt like i was truly being heard. i chose my words carefully, but not too carefully. while i’ve always been better at quantifying my emotions in written form (hello, this is why this place exists), somehow i had found a poise and collectedness in verbalizing the feelings that had been bottled up for weeks. i spoke from my heart, but i stood firm in my conviction. equal parts vulnerability and strength. the culmination of lessons learned over time.
we went around in a few more circles. good circles, i suppose. maybe we were just trying to prolong the conversation. regardless of the fact that we were essentially DTRing ourselves out of the possibility of a long-term “us,” it was good to hear his voice, to have the ease and rhythmic flow that has always been there since the beginning. but it was getting late and after my amazing j.crew dress metaphor, there was little left to be said. we mutually agreed to pause the conversation. that was enough for one day. we had said what needed to be said. addressed the elephants. let the cats out of bags. darkened the gray areas into black.
i hung up the phone and let out a deep breath. oof. i was emotionally drained but surprisingly satisfied. maybe there’s something to be said about confrontation. the good kind where you get the opportunity to express yourself honestly and transparently. the kind where you get to listen and be heard. the kind that ends with a solid friendship in tact.
there have been many j.crew dresses in my life. but despite each of their individual desirable charm and beauty, there has yet to be one to fit effortlessly. and sure, it could be easier to continue to manipulate myself with the help of spanx or a tailor, in order that i end up with a dress at all. but have you ever tried to wear a dress that was one size too small or just a hair too big? no matter how you sit or stand, push or pull, at the end of the night, you cannot wait to take it off. even though it’s right in so many ways, it’s clear it’s just not right for you.
and that’s okay.
because the effortlessly-fitting one –that one will be worth the wait.