I peeked out—and when I spotted my three companions—I sauntered out of the dressing room.
One sales person immediately grabbed black, pointy-toe, 3-inch stiletto pumps. I’m not sure how she knew my shoe size.
The other sales person cocked his head, squinted his eyes, pondered. He wasn’t so much sizing me up as he was crafting an art piece of an outfit in his imagination. Then he opened the jewelry case and picked out a chunky, over-the-top, key-and-locket chain necklace.
I fidgeted a bit, tugging at the hemline…but I knew it: the dress was a hit.
I could barely say more than “tem desconto?” in Portuguese to ask for a discount.
Camilla, Rebecca, Mike and I were in a punk designer store.* Lots of asymmetrical black clothing, gaudy rhinestones set in sterling silver chunky rings, and too-high heels. Electronic music—not pulsing—but just enough to make you want to groove a little. No other customers.
When I spotted the dress, I laughed at its absurdity. And then promptly snuck into a dressing room to try it on. Fuschia and black zebra pattern. Crazy, colorful patches hand-sewn onto one side of the hemline: “Gabba Gabba Hey!” and “Motor City Baby” and a patch with a woman’s face outlined on it and the name “Joey.” Short, but with a sweet and fluttery hemline.
Once I donned the stilettos and necklace, the clothing designer himself came downstairs (from what I only presumed to be his très chic design room in the upstairs loft), apparently called down by one of the salespeople.
He looked at me, then nodded his head in approval.
He knew I didn’t speak Portuguese…and really, there was no need for dialogue. It was merely an act of him approving the frame & canvas for his art. I was a frame for his masterpiece outfit. And I felt like a work of art.
I bought the dress, shoes and necklace.
The dress hangs in my closet. It still fits; it’s still stylish. But I’m not comfortable wearing it right now.
My pale skin may as well be hanging right next to The Brazil Dress.
The last many weeks have been full of growth—emotionally, professionally, heartfully. And perhaps more than anything, I’ve recognized the responsibility and leadership I’m coming into. And it terrifies me. So I step out of my skin.
My skin hangs next to the dress. I look at it longingly, knowing it has the power to transform me if only I’d slip it on.
Like the Brazilian clothing designer giving me the nod of approval, so has Zachariah. And Gwen. And Dad. They’ve given me the nods of approval, knowing that if I can wear my skin with a bit of swagger, I’ll be a walking piece of art.
I need to give myself the nod of approval. And then put my skin back on.