A Dress Snapped Me Back to Myself

It’s worth every dime I paid for it.

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I am on vacation by myself in Napa Valley. I know. It sounds rough. But the reality of it is that it’s not what I expected it to be.

The first time I came to Napa was in 2009 with my boyfriend who would become my second husband three years later. I loved it so much that I bought a Napa Valley timeshare on Ebay for $31. We came back four more times. He asked me to marry him on the second trip.

Last year we were supposed to spend Thanksgiving here. Instead, I filed for divorce and gave him all the money I saved for the trip to move out.

This is not a single-friendly destination. It’s unflinchingly romantic and there are happy (or seemingly happy couples — I question everything) all around. Lots of places will refer you to another winery with a 2 for 1 tasting that is totally lost on me. Every dinner I have had has been eaten sitting at the bar instead of a table.

This is a whole bag load of white girl problems. I totally understand that and am slightly annoyed at my own moping. But, still, I’ve been moping. I just don’t feel right. If it wasn’t for the kindness of wine room associates and bartenders, I am absolutely certainly I would have spent the entire week so far having not uttered a word to another soul. This is nice for a brief period of time. After a few days, it’s tiresome.

Last night, I stared at the walls until I forced myself to a brewery where I had a beer and chatted with the bartender. People here are not very welcoming to strangers. As a side note, when siting at a bar by myself, I have no idea where to look. Around? At a TV? At the menu for 30 minutes? At everyone else? My vacation has been awkward.

I saved up money for this trip for a while. It’s the first time off I have taken in five months. Spending it in a funk has been deflating.

I told myself today I was going to snap the hell out of it. I had become annoyed with myself. I wanted to feel right.

I decided that I had an opportunity in front of me I was wasting: the ability to do whatever the hell I wanted. Convention be damned.

My lunch today was a plate of tacos eaten on the trunk of my car in a parking lot. My god, did it make me happy. That is a moment I would spend my money on any time. All $6.47 that it cost me.

I wandered around downtown Calistoga and saw a dress in a vintage shop window. I was immediately in love. Buying it would be ridiculous. I went in the store anyway.

The lady who owned the store was a delight. She had a finely curated music playlist that would make the heart of any vintage shipper or drag queen happy.

The dress was expensive and it makes no sense. I would have nowhere to wear it. Still, I loved it.

After I tried it on, I stepped outside the dressing room and the store owner just started giggling. I started giggling. We were like two 12 year olds.

“Twirl! Oh my God! You have to twirl!” she told me.

I twirled. And twirled. And twirled. I felt better than good. I felt amazing. I felt happy. I felt right. This dress snapped me back to being myself again.

Sometimes, I get lost. Many times it’s just lost in my own head. Weird things bring me to. I never know where I’m going to find them.

I bought the damn dress. I may have nowhere to wear it other than in my own living room, listening to Dean Martin records and drinking a vodka martini. I don’t mind. I’ll wear it and life will feel fine. Worth every dime I paid.

Written by

Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, I won’t stop taking pictures of my drinks. vanessaltorre@gmail.com IG: vanessaltorre

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