Things I get for free

Part of an absentminded Wednesday, I go with Kendra our favorite store in Ballard, Kick it Boots and Stompwear which is next to the Kiss Cafe (beer on tap) which is next to the and the climbing gym (which I refer to, fondly, as the it the Meat Market.) The woman who owns the store discusses the job market with me while I sift distractedly through a rack of dresses. Her name is Angela, older and blond and well dressed, and she's incredibly friendly. Then, because the world is cruel I find one dress that I fall in love with. Brown and soft with flower sprigs and a pretty neck line. Because I'm a little bit of  a masochist I try it on. Perfect fit. It hangs off all the right places. I draw the curtains of the dressing room and the women in the store tell me don't I look lovely, and isn't that the most perfect dress there ever was for me!

But, believe it or not, I do have a modicum of survival tactics. It's not in my best interest to be buying anything these days that I don't need, which rules out anything that I can't eat or live within. I soothe myself.  I'll buy myself a new dress when I there is money, when there is something to celebrate. Surely there will be. Soon. Put it back old girl, there you go. (In times like these I talk to myself as if I were a horse.) And I take off the dress and hang it up where it belongs on the rack with all its mates.

Kendra tries on boots and dresses and makes a pile of things to buy. This is unprecedented. Kendra never buys anything. She still uses the same backpack she's had since middle school and she's 29. But it doesn't matter because she's so gorgeous that she could, to quote Sylvia Plath, eat men like Air. And she used to.

Angela gives me a pitying look as I leave the dresses behind and start walking the perimeter of her store, running my fingers over the polished toes of leather boots. I suddenly want to marry some rich guy and spend the rest of my life wearing boots. That doesn't sound bad at all. "That looked so good on you," she says from behind the counter, "we could set it aside...?"

"If you did that you might be holding it for a while." I pick up a shoe and look at it from all angels. Then I find myself telling Angela about a few writing projects. She's listening like a good mother, asking questions. I tell her about my upcoming dinner with Rainn Wilson and Craig Robinson, and also the latest application. The one that demanded three days worth of 9am-1am writing, how I after I hit send I was all hopeful but you can practically hear crickets chirping every time I open my email to check for a reply.

In the end, I buy this blue wrap thing. I know, I know, but it's this miracle fabric thing that I can wrap around myself six or seven different ways. It's very inexpensive and, I think with resounding clarity as I stand in front of the mirror, this may completely transform my 'look'. So I buy it and as I turn to leave Angela hands me a bag with something wrapped in tissue paper and tied up in green ribbon. She says, "This is for you to open after you get home. A little encouragement."

Kendra and I go to the Miro Tea house and she orders a sparkling tea with pieces of mango swimming around. I open the present. It's the dress I loved so much.