It was a few years ago.
I was 24 – 25, maybe – when it happened.
It was a sunny, Saturday afternoon. One of those Spring days where you’re too warm with a jacket but too cold without one, and you just can’t figure out how to most comfortably exist in the world.
I had recently moved to the West end and was gloriously soaking up everything I had lived so far away from for the last 3 years of my Toronto life. Bellwoods. The Queen West hustle. Java House. And of course my fave place to patio hop on a sunny afternoon – Kensington market.
Post-coffee at Jimmy’s & pre-beer at Ronnie’s, I wound up at a second hand shop in Kensington. A purple, flowery dress caught my eye. It was cute. Funky. And would look great with my denim jacket.
“I’m just gonna try this on,” I called to my Mom who happened to be cruising the city with me that day. I stepped into the ‘changeroom’ (which was little more than a curtain that obviously didn’t even cover you the whole way because it’s KENSINGTON and too cool for a regular fitting room, but whatever.) I stepped in anyway and got changed.
I pulled the dress over my head – immediately alarmed by how tight it felt. Was there a zipper I was supposed to undo? Had I missed a button?
I had a gut feeling that something was wrong – and what happened next would be a defining moment in my life, proving that if you have a gut feeling something is wrong THERE PROBABLY IS and you should probably listen to that. I should have backed out of the dress – examined it more closely. I should have started again. But instead, I made the fateful mistake of forcefully tugging it onto my body, assuming, hoping, it would loosen itself up once it was on properly.
My head finally broke through the top while my body remained squished inside. I shimmied and shook, trying to make it sit more comfortably. It wasn’t working, and of course because this changeroom was too hip to quit there was no mirror inside. I had to step out into the PUBLIC EYE in order to see just what I had gotten myself into.
I stepped out.
I looked in the mirror.
And what I saw will haunt me to this day.
I was not wearing a cute, purple, flowery dress.
I was wearing a cute, purple, flowery ROMPER. AND I HAD FORCED MY ENTIRE BODY THROUGH ONE LEG WHILE THE OTHER LEG LIMPLY FELL TO THE SIDE.
How I had neglected to notice this before is honestly beyond me.
I bolted back into the changeroom before anyone else could see me. Horrified, I tried to slip it off but it absolutely positively was not going down. So I lifted my arms. I tried to pull it straight off of me but it wouldn’t budge and OMG I WAS SWEATING SO MUCH.
“MOMMMM” I hollered, panicking way too hard to have any sort of shame at yelling for my Mother
My Mom showed up – although I couldn’t see her because my face was LITERALLY STUCK INSIDE THE LEG OF THIS ROMPER I WAS TRYING TO PULL OFF MY BODY.
“Are you stuck?” she asked, so kindly. So genuinely.
“YES I’M STUCK” I yelled. “I’M GOING TO DIE INSIDE OF THIS ROMPER”
“I thought it was a dress?” she asked.
“HELP ME” I screamed back.
And with my arms straight in the air, she pulled.
She pulled and pulled and I sweat and sweat.
And then suddenly, I felt it start to give a bit. I felt it start to move. And in one final pull, the romper soared off of my body with a blood-curtling rip.
I was heaving, desperately trying to catch my breath while I stared at my Mom. She stared at the romper. She looked up at me.
“It’s not a dress, eh” she said.
I don’t know if I started laughing or crying as I basked in the relief I wasn’t actually going to die inside of a romper.
But I do know that more than anything, I was horrified I had just stuffed my entire body inside one leg of a romper. And that I hadn’t even NOTICED WHAT WAS HAPPENING until I saw myself in the mirror.
That was concerning to me.
And so, the moral is this: you can be a good person. You can say please and thank you and listen to your friends when they’re having bad days. You can lend that stranger a quarter so he doesn’t have to put his coffee on debit. You can do your absolute fucking best.
But even so – even when you’re trudging through life the best way you know how – you still might have moments where life is really weird and hard. Where you can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
You’re still going to have moments where you find your entire body stuck inside a romper leg.
It’s going to be shitty. And it’s probably going to be one of the most embarrassing moments of your life, and you’re probably going to hate yourself a lot in that moment.
But ultimately, in the end, you’re gonna be fine.
I promise you’ll be fine <3