I was told by a dear friend of mine that I should tell this story in its entirety, every honest, awkward, and not-so-proud detail (for the most part). My friend, we will call her Bea, told me this story was poetic. I never saw it that way, but I suppose in a way Bea is right.
First, let’s go back to 2015. June 2015. My very best friend Grace and I took a trip up to Atlanta for a Lana Del Rey concert. Originally my husband was supposed to come with me, as he too loves Lana, but unfortunately he went to jail instead. See…every honest and not-so-proud detail. I was bummed at first, but looking back I’m grateful he didn’t go. So very grateful.
You see, the night before the concert would be the very first night Grace and I would ever spend together. Of course we had partied into the wee hours of the morning many times, but this, this was a sleep over. We were so excited to get away, to see Lana Del Rey, to go on this adventure together that we started pre-gaming and preparing the night before. She came over to my mom’s house, where I was living at the time, and we sat in my little sister’s room talking about boys, painting our nails, listening to music, and making fun of people (that was our favorite thing to do). We were picking out our clothes for the concert from my sister’s closet. Because what are sister’s good for if you can’t wear their clothes? At this part of the story there was an entirely separate adventure that took place, and while I would love to share that with everyone, I fear I may lose my job if I do. So, I will skip that part and just say… I do not care to remember that part, except the part where Grace did what Grace always did… and made friends everywhere she went. So, there we are back at my mom’s up til all hours of the night just waiting for the clock to tell us we could leave. Antsy. Impatient. Maybe a little sugar high, too. Needless to say, we didn’t wait on the clock. We left anyway. Now, let me add that Atlanta is only two hours from my home-town, check-in wasn’t until 3 p.m., and the show wasn’t until 8 p.m.
We left at 8 o’clock in the morning. We were ridiculous.
So, there we were headed to Atlanta to see Lana Del Rey in the summer of 2015. We were young, wild and free. Life was good. We were giggling, talking, jamming, and trying to figure out how in the hell we were going to kill seven hours. As we were driving, and down the road quite a ways, we saw this humongous flea market and decided to check it out. It looked cool and that was kind of our thing; we loved to buy things from yard sales and flea markets. It was so hot that day and I remember there was this massive hill you had walk up just to get to the market. It was brutal. I was wining and sweating, and there were a lot of people there that frightened me. We were hot and disappointed is all I remember. I think I almost got hit by a car or something, too. It was traumatic. Needless to say we didn’t spend a whole lot of time there and had to figure out how to kill some more time. We got back in the car and drove a little more. When we came close to the area where our hotel was located, it looked as though I had booked our room on a bad side of town. Grace laughed as we drove through the neighborhood. Had it been any other friend of mine, they would have had something to say, maybe let it show they were uncomfortable, or made me feel bad. Not Grace. She loved flea market junk, Goodwill clothes, and crappy hotels in bad areas. She saw everything as an adventure. There were old, dilapidated buildings and houses, garbage on the streets, homeless people on every corner, and bars on windows at gas stations. I was like, “Uh, oh”. It didn’t bother her. At this point she was driving, because I do NOT drive in large cities. I was terrified so she took over. That is what friends do. We decided to get a little something to eat. We stopped at a Wendy’s (I think it was the only restaurant around where we were). We went in, ordered, ate, used their WiFi, and came up with a game plan. We still had time to kill before check-in. We stayed at Wendy’s as long as we could and then decided we would drive around to see what was in the area. We found it got better…and that it wasn’t the only restaurant around. We noted where everything was and decided to head to the hotel to see if we could get an early check-in.
We pull up and go inside. The reservation was in my name, so I go up to talk to the clerk and to ask about an early check-in. I don’t remember every detail, but I remember it being a difficult process. There was a lot of waiting in the lobby, looking at the time, and rolling our eyes. But, we finally made it to the room. Finally. And we were happy. The room was clean and comfortable. We made ourselves at home as soon as we walked in. We ended up naked, lounging around watching crappy, crime TV, taking selfies, and talking about how pretty we were. We were lazy for a little while, but then it was time to get pretty. We showered, put on our make-up, and changed a few times before we were ready. We both had really short hair so it didn’t take any time to do our hair. We both wore very little make-up, because really, we were pretty enough not to need it. We took more selfies and pictures. We had to document how pretty and alive we were. Our goal was to make people jealous of us…and to use the pictures to scrapbook.
Now, it is time to leave for the concert. This was before Uber, or before we knew of Uber anyway, so Grace drove to the venue. I was so excited. She didn’t love Lana like I loved Lana, but she loved us both enough to go. Grimes opened for Lana Del Rey at that show and it was insane. Of course, we took more selfies. One of which I have in my office today. The show began and I started crying. I believe I cried the entire show. I mean, it was the first time I had ever seen Lana Del Rey, and everything about it was magical. I couldn’t have been happier. We didn’t really talk during the show because I was too busy singing and crying. Grace did look over to tell me, “Okay, that’s enough. Get it together” a few times, though.
And just like that the concert was over and what we had been looking forward to for months had come and gone. Our adventure wasn’t over yet, though. We made it back to the hotel. We were starving, dehydrated, and very tired. Unfortunately everything was closed and we were too tired to get in the car and fight the traffic to get something to eat. We had to settle for crackers. We ate supper out of the vending machine that night, watched a little TV, and went to sleep. The concert and her company was enough for me. It was a good day.
However, the next day would come to be known as one of the best days. For me, anyway. And I don’t mean like, we rode horses near the mountainside with Jason Momoa kind of best day. This was more subtle. We woke up that following morning, got dressed for the day and decided to head down to area we had checked out before the concert the day before. There were shopping plazas and a variety of restaurants, and we had to check it all out. I believe we wanted to eat first. Yeah, that makes sense. It was lunch time and we had had very little food at that point in the journey. We looked around for a minute and decided on this place that was a sushi buffet, and it was heaven. We sat down, ordered some wine, and then fixed up a big ol’ plate of sushi. And, it was amazing. Not only that, it was cheap. We had a really great time eating, drinking, and being silly. We devoured a lot of sushi, too. To me, sushi will make any kind of day a good day, but it made that day delicious and memorable. We took our time eating and drinking. We were in no real hurry to get back home.
After lunch we went shopping. I was actually pretty broke that trip. I had enough money to get us there and back, and to eat some junk along the way. For some reason Grace decided she would spoil me. She did that a lot. She always went above and beyond for me. But, this spree would become very special to me.
We ended up in Ross. There we casually strolled through all the aisles, through all different sections, looking at all the stuff we didn’t need. I picked out three dresses, a shirt cover, and some kava and tangerine tea. Maybe some more stuff, but that’s about all I can remember. One of the dresses was a short, tight little number; it was black and white with some grey areas. A dress you’d wear to a party with some boots or heels…maybe a black leather jacket. The other dress was also tight, had a floral pattern, but had a frilly bottom. It was mainly black, but had colorful flowers on it. The third dress was a ridiculous, neon colored, floral pattern dress. I mean, that dress was bright! I told her I could stop traffic in it. It was bold, bright, colorful, and fun. I wasn’t sure that I wanted it. I mean, it fit great in all the right places and was pretty, but I felt like a human highlighter in it because it was so bright. Y’all don’t understand how bright that dress was.
We went home and I put everything up.
I loved everything she bought me, but somehow I started gaining weight and never wore the tight little number. I still have it, though. I wore the other dress a few times while I was still small enough to get into it, but the highlighter dress…I stuck it in the back of my closet. I always wanted to wear it, I just couldn’t find the right time. Maybe I wasn’t brave enough. I don’t know. No time ever felt like the right time. No place ever felt like right place. No event ever felt like the right event. And, I never wanted that much attention. I just…never wore it.
Until one day in June. June 4, 2017.
The day of her funeral.
I had many friends come to be with me during that time and they of course had to help me pick out what I would wear to my best friend’s funeral. As soon I walked to the closet I knew that was the dress for the occasion. It was finally the right time, place, and event. Wearing black to her funeral never even crossed my mind. In fact, that would have been a disservice to her. Offensive, really. She was bold, bright, colorful, and fun. And, she bought that dress for me. It was special. I wanted to stand out this time, dammit! I wanted to look like a highlighter in a shoe-box of black crayons. For her. Although I wanted to wear it and stand out, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about it. I was sure, but there was hesitation. I am weird like that. Everyone assured me that it was the right thing to wear…that Grace would have it no other way. I have to say that I have no regrets in doing so. Wearing that ridiculously bright dress to her funeral was the ONLY thing that made sense during that time.
I didn’t realize all that time ago that she was buying me the dress I would wear to her funeral. She didn’t realize she was buying me the dress I would wear to her funeral. I didn’t realize that was why I never could find the right time to wear it… until that day. The highlighter dress was meant to be worn at her funeral. As sad as it is, it is kind of poetic. Beautiful. Life is strange.
I haven’t worn it since. I don’t know if I ever will again. How do you wear a dress that makes you look like a human highlighter, but that is also SO incredibly special, anywhere else…especially after it was worn to your best friend’s funeral? I don’t think you do.
‘To my favorite friend. You filled my life with adventure and 90’s dresses. I will miss you until I stop breathing. My soul sister. My love.’