Sunday Morning ~ Adding Salt
Kangaonde kakoma ndi mcere. ~ It may be small, but it is lovely when you add salt.
~ Chewa proverb
June 6, 2021
It’s opening up more and more around here just when I was thinking I would never socialize again. It felt like I’d forgotten how––like it was some kind of skill one must continually practice, like the piano. I’d started thinking a reclusive life wasn’t all that bad when I was surprised with an impromptu dinner invitation last night and found myself giddy at the thought. I spent the day ruminating about attire. Last year I spent the season in a rotation of three pairs of shorts and four tank tops. Cool evenings I would don a hoody. With this year promising to be a little less isolated, I pulled down the seasonal clothes, vowing to go through the piles and rid my closet of lill fitting, torn, stained, or outdated garments. Never a fashion maven, what to wear has caused some anxiety in the past. In a climate where evenings can be arctic or tropical without warning, one weighs comfort and style equally. The parking limitations in town can require a sizable walk so footwear must also be considered. It’s a fair amount of work! Gazing into the neglected closet, I saw the shelf assigned to Malawian dresses I’d had made there from chitenjes. When packing for my various returns for work I’d simply lift the pile from the shelf into the suitcase and be ready to go. Packing was a breeze. I’ve accepted the fact that I won’t be going back for a while, even though a year ago I thought it might be in a year. Now I am saying the same thing. So the chitenje dresses stay neatly folded waiting for a place to wear them.
Summer on the Maine coast presents challenges for dressing up. One waits all winter for the chance to show the shoulders and knees only to have to cover the ensemble with a fleece jacket. It really spoils the effect. And shoes! Those sassy little numbers you find for a song at Mardens? The ones from Italy with a price tag of $150 marked down to $7.99? Those little heels will sink into the earth at most gala events which makes taking a step dangerous. I’ve left a shoe behind me many a time, discreetly circling back, slipping my toe in to gently lift and remove the planting without disturbing the roots. It’s another acquired skill.
The dinner invitation was to meet a newcomer to the Island, someone who comes from Malawi! I’d spoken to her on the phone shortly after she arrived and we’d planned to get together as soon as covid and new work responsibilities allowed. Last evening it came together via a mutual friend and with her sisters visiting here as well, it was a multicultural girls night out on graduation weekend. Challenges included where to park and what to wear, but that aside, I was looking forward to a mask-less meal of my choice served to me on a plate as opposed to my evening “meals” eaten directly from the container while standing at my kitchen counter. Plus, new people! Stories! It seemed like a big adventure.
I pulled out outfit options. Everything still fits, so that was a good start. The weather prediction was warm and clear but that means nothing around here. It can be eighty degrees at my house and my choice of short skirt, sandals, and flimsy little top seem perfect, only to get to the restaurant near the water with a cold “breeze” making a miserable evening of shivering even with the extra three layers I bring in my bag. You can’t go to dinner with a small purse if you haven’t dressed in layers to begin with. The options are to wear them all and take them off layer by layer, or to wear the outfit you wanted in the first place, then ruin it by adding layer upon layer until you can have a conversation and eat your meal without thinking the whole time about getting home and getting into a hot bath. It’s a full time job.
Last night I thought I had the perfect number of layers with each one adding a bit of style. I was sure I’d be comfortable in a wide range of temperatures and even wore some jewelry. I was feeling dressed up in my long linen skirt (lined so the extra layer was protection while still looking summery), tank top, cotton summer sweater, jean jacket and tie dyed scarf. I thought I had all the bases covered, and though the shoes were a bit dowdy, they didn’t show much and the walk wouldn’t be an issue. My friend arrived to pick me up in…what’s that?…a convertible?! Are you kidding? Woo hoo! I was set for that ride because, like I said, the night was warm. We drove into town, hair blowing, laughing, happy to be going out. I couldn’t believe I had thought I’d want to give this up! What was I thinking? My friend was decked out in a satin jacket with gorgeous jewelry and bad ass heels. She said the others told her they were going all out and getting dressed up as it was the first night out in over a year. My heart sank a little. I didn’t get that memo. When they arrived at the restaurant, gorgeous in long colorful dresses, walking in smiling, full of life, looking like royalty, I felt like a nun. I did have the perfect dress too but it was sitting on the shelf in my closet! After hours of laughing, eating, drinking, and storytelling, we closed the place, stopping to take group photos amidst the empty tables. In the photos I look incredibly short and incredibly boring. Time to bust out. Add the salt. Spicy summer here I come.
Love to all,