Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dress, Memory - or, not a book review.

My primary school years were unbelievably formative.  I went to the same school from pre-school right through to Year 7, and my memories of that time are so vivid, so so vivid. Is that weird? Part of me wants to say that the people I went to primary school with made me who I am today.  But I think that might be hyperbole.  What with parents and relatives and high school and uni and motherhood and work and whatnot doing their level best to mould me like unwilling plasticine since 1992.

Still, it isn't over the top to say that, at least for me, the people I was devoted to in primary school had a lasting influence on me.  I think of them often.  I see them sometimes.  I still remember their birthdays.

When we were in primary school, my friends and I were all interested in reading and writing.  We used to read and act out sections of Roald Dahl novels for our reluctant classmates.  Or at least that's how I remember it.

Whenever I see them, particularly my old best friend A, I can see how we influenced each other, even today. I think grown ups, and parents, underestimate the power those first friendships have on you.  Sometimes when I think of P starting school, and forming those early, firm, fast attachments, I feel kind of a pang.  

One of those little girls from my past has grown up to become a writer. A very good one.  A clever, talented, lovely one.  Her name is Lorelei and she has written a book called Dress, Memory, which is a memoir of her 20s, using one dress from her amazing and enormous vintage dress collection, per decade.

I pre-ordered the book, and got it delivered, signed, with a loving message inside. I devoured it in one day.  The book is based on a blog by the same name but is quite different. It is funny, and lovely, and captures all the ANGST and broken hearts and weird shit that goes down in your 20s when you can't work out who the HECK you are and what on earth you are supposed to be doing with yourself.  I for one had a relatively TUMULTUOUS time in my 20s, love affair wise and friend wise and life choices wise and by GOD I am glad not to be there any more.

It was a bit strange to be reading this book because it felt weirdly like it was part of my story too.  Since going to different high schools, Lorelei and I have dipped in and out of each other's lives, mostly staying in contact due to her diligence and commitment to our old friendship, and more recently her unwavering support of my  embryonic writing "career" haha. Pretty much all those girls I was friends with went to the local Lutheran private school, but I went to the state high school.  I missed them, and was jealous of what I perceived to be their continued closeness. It was strange to read their story from another perspective, because I remember bits and pieces, and stories she told, but never the back story, never the full picture. I've always been slightly in awe of her artistic lifestyle and interesting social network, and embarrassed of my suburban existence, but reading it made me realise WE ARE ALL WEIRDOS WHO KNOW NOTHING.  So many of the anecdotes and emotions were familiar to me. VERY FAMILIAR! Oh god THE YOUNG, HEY, THEY KNOW NOTHING, NOTHING I TELL YOU!

I went to the book launch at Avid Reader. We all wore our own "Dress, Memories". I donned my darling dead Nana's tartan skirt in honour of the occasion.

It was a great and emotional night. I went with my cousin B and my almost-cousin K.  We got pretty emo.  There were tears and we remembered the olden days when we used to share a house and each others clothes. WHERE  HAS THE TIME GONE PEOPLE WHERE HAS IT GONE?

I have a lot of feelings about this book that it's hard to express, but mainly, I am just so thrilled and proud of my old dear friend for writing it. It's beautiful, clever, charming, and eloquent.  Just like her.

Everyone should immediately click on this link and purchase it POST HASTE.

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