I saw this dress hanging in the front of a Scotch and Soda store, and was instantly reminded of the night sky. If you are lucky enough to have grown up or spent time somewhere that has little to no light pollution, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The sky is an inky expanse that looks like glitter has been thrown all over it, and the stars wink and sparkle like diamonds in a jewellery store window. It is something truly beautiful. Today I’m sharing with you a very personal story about the first time I fell in love with the stars, and why, when I found a dress that reminded me of them, I had to have it.
At 13, I was already a hopeless romantic. I was also very sheltered, and to cap it off extremely busy. I got up in the mornings at 5.30 to do my ballet practice, then off to school from 9-3, and then straight to ballet from 3.30-8.30. Rinse and repeat. While my friends were getting boyfriends and running around town with each other after school, my mum had been drumming it into my head that if I wanted things to fall into place for me in the future, now was the time to focus, and focus meant no boys.
It wasn’t really a problem because I didn’t really even talk to any boys, and to be honest at 13, I was probably just entering what would be a seven-year stretch of awkward phases, and I wasn’t on anyone’s radar anyway.
That was until a new kid came to school- for the purpose of this story I’m going to call him A. A was great at sports, he did well with his academic subjects and I thought he was really cute. My 13-year-old heart was experiencing its first crush- I was enamoured.
He didn’t know I existed, and I kept my head down and didn’t tell a soul. This went on for the better part of a year.
In November, my best friend had a birthday party. She was so social and easy-going, and half the grade was invited. We spent the afternoon swimming at a local farmer’s private lakes, eating and running around her yard. Night fell, and some enterprising soul suggested we play Murder in the Dark.
We all took off around the garden to find places to hide. Somewhere along the way I lost the friend I was with, and so I ran as far away from the house as I could and found a group of bushes to hide behind. Imagine my shock when I quite literally tripped over A, also using the copse as his hiding place. I was so embarrassed I could barely say a word to him, but he was completely at ease.
We were so far away from the house we could barely hear the game, so as we waited for someone to find us, he started (much to my delight and also intense embarrassment) trying to make conversation with me. I remember there were a dozen or so fireflies in the bush in front of us. He told me that 100% of the energy produced from the chemical reaction inside their abdomen is emitted as light, as opposed to a light bulb which only emits 10% of its energy as light (90% is lost as heat), making the firefly light the most efficient light made ever (you can Google this, he was right). He also told me they were actually beetles, carnivorous, and some species synchronise their flashing.
When he got sick of crouching and waiting, he lay down on his back to have a look at the stars, and eventually I tentatively followed suit. It was, and still is, the most spectacular night sky I have ever seen. There were so many stars, my eyes could have traced the patterns in the sky forever. Not only that, we saw two shooting stars, and A made me close my eyes and wish upon them.
Eventually, we decided that the game was surely over, and walked back to the house together. In all that time I’d probably said less than a hundred words, but my cheeks were sore from smiling.
The next week at school, he came up to me at lunch break with a letter he had written me. I wrote back to him, and so we started this strange little form of communication. Every time he would give me one, my heart would practically beat out of my chest. I hoarded those letters in my desk drawer, hoping my mum would never find them.
This went on for about a month. Then it was Christmas holidays, and in January, I moved away to pursue my ballet. A year or so later, stupidly, I threw the letters out in a moment of self-disgust for living in the past.
A and I never spoke again after that, and a few years later, I heard word that he had tragically passed away during a trip overseas.
But that night in my best friend’s backyard, lying in the dirt and staring up at the stars remains one of the best of my life. Maybe it was just that it was the most romantic moment my teenaged heart had ever experienced, who knows. But every time since then that I have had the time to sit outside on a clear night, I try to stop and appreciate how amazing the stars are.
When I saw this dress hanging in the shop window, without conscious thought, my mind was cast back to that night. It’s one of my most treasured memories, and it always makes me smile to think of it. I knew I had to have this dress because of the memories that it evoked for me, and so that every time I see it hanging in my wardrobe, I can wish upon a star.