jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


In the Russian language “red” and “beautiful” have the same root. As they should.

Several years ago I bought a red dress. There was a man, and I wanted him to think I was beautiful, I wanted to be beautiful for him.

I never wore that dress much. I didn’t actually have the guts to demand that much attention. But yesterday, because the springtime flashes of bare skin are starting to emerge all around me, because my arms, my collarbones, my knees are starved to be touched by the sun, I put it on.

I went about my business, in Midtown, the Lower East Side, Union Square, the East Village. Wearing that red dress made me lift my head, look people in the eye, it made me feel beautiful and I smiled and smiled.

That lovely warm day was followed by a lovely cool night, and the first night to sleep with the windows wide open, delicious air streaming across my bed. Now the red dress is put away, and with it it's charm, and the bed feels so empty, as it should.

Today, however, I bought another red dress.


Blogger Dr. S said...

This post is quite lovely and full of such a perfect mix of contentment and longing. I'm glad you not only wore the dress again but bought another.

12:53 AM  
Blogger dagger aleph said...

Agreed on the post,and I love the coffee cup photo. Love it.

Years back I took a photo in Prospect Park of a forlorn "we are happy to serve you" coffee cup floating on a bed of algae in a stagnant pond.

1:34 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Contentment, Dr S. Thank you for putting a finger on it.

I watch women in the subway, on the street, but I don't watch men. Not because I don't find them intensely interesting, but because I am afraid of being misconstrued, or, more importantly, I am afraid some sense of longing will be revealed, I will make myself pathetically vulnerable, make someone else feel badly for me.

When I am content, when I want nothing, I can look a man in the face like I did that day. Walk down the street with my chin up, meet and return the looks I get.

10:24 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Thank you Dagger. This is one of the more satisfying pictures of late. It just grabbed me, the blue against the yellow, and why the hell is it stuck in a fence?

Agreed that cheerful familiar objects look particularly abject when thoughtlessly discarded.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Ashley. said...

The picture reminds me of the christmas greetings stated with styrofoam cups in chain link fences that I often see while driving down Route 66, no matter what time of year it is.

12:47 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

ashley, that is brilliant! I love that image. And it is particularly wry as a snow replacement!

4:25 PM  

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