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Wearing White. (Photograph by klj_francis via Flickr.) See Acknowledgements and Attributions

There’s a heat wave in Northern California so I wore a dress that was completely white.  It fit well. The dress was knee-length and had two front hip pockets that aren’t really useful for anything except that they make it convenient for me to clip my badge to them. It is a mix between cotton and some other stretchy material which made it very comfortable.  It hangs there in my closet, sandwiched between a blue shirt dress and a peasant blouse.  It’s sort of sad because it’s a great dress, but I rarely wear it.  After all, it is completely white.

Also, this is not a dress you can just throw on.  It requires proper foundational garments. The last thing you want is your hot pink underwear showing.  That’s a good way to wind up on someone’s Facebook page with the caption “What on earth was she thinking?!”  Thought and care goes hand in hand with wearing white.

When it’s not your wedding day, wearing a completely white dress is like thumbing your nose at the world.  It’s like saying “I don’t care” to all the bad things that could happen– ketchup stains, pen stains, bird doo-doo. It’s a declaration.  I’m brave.  Do your worst.  I’m confident.  No panty lines.

I decided to do it.

“Icarus” (Photo courtesy of PhxJay via Flickr.) See Acknowledgments and Attributions.

Was I guilty of hubris, then?  Perhaps I did not give enough credence to those Greek myths filled with tales of retribution for too much pride.  I paused and wondered if this was a good idea.  Was I like Icarus who flew too close to the sun?   I shrugged my shoulders.  Nah.

I got out of the house without any trouble.  Lola’s baby hands were clutching crayons and waving them around but none of the waxy color got on me.   I arrived at work with the pristine white of my dress still intact.

Then I dared to get coffee.  A Mexican mocha– non-fat, no whip– to be exact.  I strolled over to Gino’s Coffeehouse in my favorite python-print 3 inch heels.  Gino’s was just three blocks away, but I sailed over the faded cobblestones, uneven sidewalks, and raised bumps with no problem.  I was at the threshold of my building when my stride went a little off kilter.  A splash of liquid hit my thumb, but I saw no other damage.

I didn’t notice the coffee splotch on my dress until I got back to my desk.   I couldn’t believe it.   It looked like I was wearing a map of a big island with lots of little islands around it.

I wanted to hide. I thought about going home to change.  Who cares about the foundational garments when there’s a big coffee stain on the front of your dress.

Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, studied the physics behind how not to spill coffee.  (It’s all in the walk: Scientists explore the physics behind NOT spilling coffee via DailyMail.)  They recommend (1) leave a large gap between the coffee and the top of the drinking vessel, (2) walk slower and (3) watch the mug rather than the floor when walking.

I would also add number four — don’t wear white.

But what if I want to wear white anyway?  Sometimes human beings want to step outside the safe zone.  Perhaps it means contemplating that decision to go back to school, to get married, to take the vacation of your dreams.  It’s not really about provoking the gods or tempting fate.   It’s about being you.  It’s about being me.

I’m still going to wear ALL WHITE.  But not always.  Only sometimes.  And I’m bringing my stain remover.  That’s not hubris, right?

How do you feel about stepping out of your comfort zone?

Acknowledgements and Attributions

The Black and White photograph that I captioned Wearing White is used with express permission from klj_francis via Flickr.  All rights are reserved by klj_francis.

Icarus” is used with express permission from PhxJay via Flickr.  All rights are reserved by PhxJay.

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