Wedding dresses and the Leawood Police Department

I’ve been helping Emery and Miles clean, weed out, organize and redistribute their things (i.e. take stuff out of their basement and put it in mine…) in preparation to sell their house and move to Colorado. At one point, I asked Emery what she wanted me to do with her wedding dress, which looks like a white tent perched up against the wall of my upstairs cedar closet.

“Oh I don’t know.  I should probably have it cleaned but really don’t really care…  Just leave it.”

I asked too late.  My girl who says she doesn’t have one sentimental bone in her body has moved on.  No doubt the day will come when she’ll be grateful for what I will likely go ahead and do, which is have the dress professionally cleaned and boxed for proper storage.  She may say she doesn’t have a sentimental bone in her body,  but I’d rephrase that to say, “she’s selective with her sentimentality and the pieces she decides to let in, she’ll carry forever…”  She just wasn’t ready to to file this piece away as sentimentality.  It’s too soon, or maybe too late, but years down the road she will feel a flutter in her heart when she sees the big box wrapped in brown paper on the closet shelf… most likely MY closet shelf.

I can remember going through similar feelings regarding my own wedding dress, but made myself take care of it the day after returning home from our honeymoon because I knew if I didn’t do it then, I never would and my white satin gown would quickly yellow, and not in a cool tea-stained vintage sort of way, or so I was told.  I did the research and ended up taking it to a cleaners on Troost Avenue that had been recommended to me, and for $50 I had it cleaned, wrapped in blue tissue to keep it white, boxed and for that price, I assumed hermetically sealed.  It was a huge investment at the time, exactly one tenth of what the dress cost me, but everyone I spoke with insisted I shell out the money as  I’d regret it if I didn’t.

For 28 years,  that large box wrapped in brown paper sat in the back of the cedar closet in the home Charlie and I raised our kids in, until one day when my then future daughter in law, Brooke,  was in town and wanted to see what my wedding dress looked like.  And just like Pandora’s box, when the box that had been sealed for the past 28 years was opened up, I never could have predicted that the most astonishing thing would  NOT be that I could get it zipped half the way up, but that it would be on file at the Leawood Police Department.

The promises the dry cleaners told me were upheld and the dress looked as good as the day when I handed it over to them, except it was a bit of a wrinkled mess, but I expected that.  I’m so glad Brooke asked to see it as I never would have been inclined to open the box for even a peek, let alone a try on.  Afterwards, I brought the dress back to my house, box and all, but before doing my best to box it up again, Emery wanted to have a look and a try on.  Both she and Brooke were getting married in the coming year and although they both already had their dresses,  it was fun to be able to share this moment of my history with them.

After Emery tried on the dress and oohed and ahhhed (OK, I’m kind of exaggerating on that one… she did mention something about Renaissance Festivals though…), I left the dress at the bottom of the stairs to be taken up to the cedar closet and folded back into its box when I had time.

Two days later, an unfortunate series of events unfolded, beginning with my impulsive move to set the alarm system when I left the house (something I rarely do) and not realizing that the front door wasn’t completely latched. The wind blew the door open, the alarm went off, the police were called and my sister was called because she’s my “call her first when there’s trouble..” person.  While I’m enjoying a challenging but fun workout with friends, Robin is at my front door discussing the possible “incident” with the Leawood police.

By no means is what I’m about to say minimizing the work that the policemen do in my neighborhood or the respect I have for them, but it is a bit like Mayberry around here and an alarm going off was noteworthy enough that 2 cars and 4 officers showed up at the scene.  Of course Robin could not enter the house once she arrived,  as it was still considered a possible crime scene (thank goodness no tape had been stretched across the front door) although they said it didn’t look like there had been a break in as my computer was still on my bed as well as some jewelry on the night stand.

However…. there was one thing that they found that was very odd that they couldn’t make sense of…

There was a wedding gown on the floor at the bottom of the stairs….  Did she know anything about a wedding gown?

At that moment, as Robin is relating this story to me, I realized that just a few paces away from that wedding gown heap was something else they saw but chose not to mention and that was a half a dozen empty wine bottles next to my sink.  I had gathered them up to recycle and although right next to the gown on the floor, the two had absolutely,  no way no how,  anything to do with each other.  Robin of course knew nothing of the dress but told the officers she was sure it was nothing.  It was, however, her first question to me, which went something like this:

“Please tell me that you don’t put your wedding dress on at night and drink wine…”

I know there’s a big ole moral of the story in here somewhere … maybe something to do with following through with projects, being mindful when doing important things such as setting the house alarm or maybe it’s taking care of the 2nd wedding dress in my upstairs closet so it, also, doesn’t end up in a photo in my file down at the station.  But the moral I like to think about is that maybe my string of carelessness offered a bit of comic relief to a few of  Leawood’s police officers, and a good story to take back to the station.

I continue to be hopeful that the officers on duty that day don’t sigh in pity when they drive by the house on High Drive where circumstantial evidence would have me traipsing around in a wrinkled mess of a wedding dress, most likely stained with wine… the Miss Havisham of Leawood, if you will.  Or maybe I should covet the incident that gave an otherwise quiet police department an unexpected laugh that morning.

Hours after the “incident,”  the wrinkled mess of a dress was mashed right back into its box and put it on the shelf in the cedar closet, with plenty of room next to it for Emery’s eventually cleaned and boxed-up dress. Years down the road, it will be her adventure, not mine, if and when she decides to break the seal to see what’s inside, hopefully without police intervention.

Police files are confidential… this is the best I could do…

The screened-in porch I bought with the attached house…

I bought a condo in Frisco, Colorado instead of the book I went into the book store for last summer (reference “How’d I Get Here?” post) and as I’m sitting here on my screened in porch in Kansas, I realized that although I had never bought a house instead of a book,  the behavior is not new for me.  Actually, I bought the house I’m in now in Kansas because as soon as I stepped into the front room (yep, when your house was built in the 1930’s, that’s what you get to call the room at the front of the house…), my eyes were immediately drawn to the stone and windowed screened in porch that french doors in the living room led out to.  Literally, I bought a screened in porch that luckily for me, had a house attached to it.

Upon stepping into the front room and at first glance into the porch, I looked at my daughter, Emery, and it’s possible we both said it at the same time…

“You/I LIVE here!”

I have to add here that I wasn’t actively looking for a house at the time, as the house I was currently in was fine, but this house was in a very charming, treed neighborhood with a strong sense of history and appreciation for local merchants.   It was a neighborhood I had wanted to live in before I got married (in 1985), but hopes were set aside when it didn’t have the appeal to my then husband that it did for me.

How ironic that when I walked up the stairs of the condo in Frisco and saw it for the first time, Brooke said the same words to me, “You LIVE here!” yet I don’t recall making the connection… or maybe I did but didn’t dwell on it as I had already fast forwarded myself right out onto the deck and what I’d look like living there while I looked out at my view of Mt. Royal.  Both my daughter and my daughter in law seem to have an uncanny knack of of seeing me live in places that aren’t quite mine.

After Emery and I had both declared our intentions for the house, I told my real estate agent, Nina, that I wanted to buy it.  I’ve got to add that Nina and I have been friends for decades (over 4 to be accurate… geez we sound old…) and she knows me and knows that my default position leans more towards impulsive than methodical.  Obviously she thought looking at the rest of the house would be a wise idea before we started writing up a contract, which we did, both of us knowing full well that it mattered little what was behind that front room and screened in porch because short of dirt floors and plywood walls, I was going to make it work for the sake of the beautiful porch (the treed lot that the porch looked out onto was also a big plus for me).  After a relatively quick walk through, I told her once again that I wanted it and was ready to write up an offer.

“But it’s the first house you’ve looked at…you can’t just buy the first house you look at!”

“OK… then show me another one, THEN we’ll make an offer…”

And so she did. There was a house nearby for sale and as lovely as the garden was driving up to the front door,  I knew it wasn’t going to be the right house, regardless.  After a quick walk through the main level (I didn’t even bother to go upstairs), I told her Nina that I had seen enough and was ready to make and offer.

I had an extended trip to Peru coming up in a matter of weeks and fortunately Nina was able to convince the sellers to delay the closing until my return, a few months later.  The whole process from contract negotiations to the inspection went off without a hitch.  I truly believe, and experience has confirmed this for me, that when something IS meant to be things seem to fall into place nicely.  It’s when you’re met with obstacle after obstacle that I think the decision should be questioned.  Besides, I was meant to live in that house and sit on that porch.

About a month later, and from an internet cafe in Villa el Salvador, Peru, I sold the house I was currently living in (when I impulsively bought the screened in porch house).  So, while sitting at a computer in a dimly lit, hot, small room with a handful of teen-aged boys enjoying computer games, I muddled my way through the process of signing a contract, then faxing it and waiting for confirmation of receipt, with a very limited Spanish business vocabulary and a growing line of impatient school boys waiting their turn for the computer I was using.  Short of earning my pilot’s license,  graduating from college (finally) and birthing my three amazing children , I do believe that this was one of my prouder accomplishments, especially given that short of email and some photo and music storage, I really wasn’t all that computer savvy.

By the way, the house I sold to buy the screened in porch house, was the first and only house I looked at shortly after filing for divorce.  Maybe it was beginners luck (that continued?), but I knew right off that it was the right house for me.  My real estate agent at the time  did the same thing that Nina had done and showed me several similar houses, after my proclimation of wanting to buy the first one I saw because “you simply can’t but the first one!”  I ended up returning to the original house, as I knew I would,  made an offer and was signing contracts by the end of the day.   I’m just now realizing that there’s a pattern here and now understand why my sister wouldn’t let me go house hunting in the Adirondacks with her husband, John, “just to look…”

But when it’s right it’s right and you know it in your heart of hearts and your gut of guts.  Seriously, I’ve given more thought to a pair of jeans while sitting in the dressing room at the GAP, a situation that rarely seems to be spot on right or has me saying “you LIVE in these jeans!”

And in the time it took me to type this, I would still be deciding on the jeans.  I’ve bought houses in a shorter amount of time…


The porch that I bought and was lucky that a house was attached to it…