Originally appeared on The Scout Guide Alexandria
I first met Alison Teer (Editor of TSG ALEXANDRIA) about three and a half years ago; however, we both feel like we have known each other for much longer than that, because she and I share many mutual friends who were constantly assuming we, too, were friends. Every time somebody would knowingly speak of her, I would remark, “You know, I’ve actually never met Alison,” and it was always greeted with the same exuberant, “Y'all have to meet! You would love each other!” One day we finally met and discovered we each had two young kids similar in age, did indeed share many dear friends, had a similar sense of humor and a shared love of all things Alexandria. We quickly became fast friends with one huge caveat, my late husband had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
When we finally met, I remember Alison telling me she had seen me at the dry cleaners (Baldwin Fabricare–the best in Old Town, we think!!) one day, immediately recognized me from the Team Kennett blog I maintained at the time, and decided to leave me alone assuming I didn’t want to be known as the woman in town whose husband had tragically been diagnosed with Stage IV non-smokers lung cancer at the age of 31. Oh, and did I mention I was pregnant with our second baby and had a newly turned three year old at the time? That gift of a couple of moments of peace and normalcy at the dry cleaners that day was the first of many gifts I would come to receive from Alison over the next couple of years.
But this is far from being a “whoa is me” post, so please stick with me.
After my husband passed away last January, I decided I was ready to get dressed one day. You know, to really get dressed instead of putting on my soul-soothing uniform of stretchy, black leggings and knee boots with the cowl neck sweatshirt tunic du jour. I opened my closet doors to discover I hated everything in it. After having two babies three years a part, I had missed two seasons of buying anything non-maternity and caring for my husband and two nuggets had also left me with little time and resources to do something for myself as frivolous as shopping. I was ready to feel good again. To take care of myself again. I was ready to make the investment in my wardrobe, but I didn’t even know where to start. I had called Alison many times before with a cry for help, but this time I called for her professional help as a personal stylist and shopper at ALISON LUKES ET CIE.
I thought editing my closet was going to feel overwhelming and depressing, but no, ma'am. Alison made it fun, and the process was liberating. Did that regular blouse I had actually worn as a maternity shirt make me feel great? Nope. Out. Did that pair of skinny jeans that hadn’t zipped since before I had given birth to my son five years earlier spark joy? Nope. OUT! We then identified my wardrobe deficiencies, outlined a budget, and off she went. I must admit it felt quite indulgent and a long way away from my hometown of Marks, MS to have a personal shopper, but with everything else I was juggling with settling the estate, rewriting my will, and caring for my two littles, it also felt both luxurious and necessary.
I know this might sound like a far stretch, but looking back on it now, I feel like that “out with old/in with the new” closet revamp was the beginning of my healing process. On days I felt courageous enough to stick my big toe back in to the great, big world, I knew I had something hanging in my closet I loved and that fit properly. After many months of doggedly putting one foot in front of the other, how I was feeling on the inside was much more reflective of the polished image I was projecting on the outside. Fake it until you make it? Well, sometimes it’s your only option.
Now fast forward with me a bit to just a few weeks ago when Alison and I went shopping together for a wedding dress. MY wedding dress! I told you this was not a blog post full of doom and gloom. I’m going to be a 41 year old bride at the end of the summer! Over the course of spending the day together, we had somehow managed to discuss the fun, new, funky frames I had just gotten from EYE2EYE OPTOMETRY CORNER after my annual eye exam with Dr. Dora Adamopoulos, oohed and aahed over my new engagement ring designed by Tim Shaheen at LAWRENCE MILLER & CO., I told her of the very special TODD HEALY prints I had received for my birthday, we discussed menu options for the rehearsal/welcome dinner we are hosting at SOCIETY FAIR, and as the day went on, we both kind of laughed about how I was actually the living version of THE SCOUT GUIDE ALEXANDRIA.
Over lunch, Alison posed the question, “You like to write, you are a patron of all these places, you are always scouting out new restaurants, shops, exercise studios, you are planning a wedding in Old Town…why don’t you write about all of these things and guest blog for The Scout Guide this summer?” Hmmmm…
I first moved to Alexandria as an intern the winter of 1997 and returned the following winter to start my first “real job.” I lived in a row house on S. Lee Street with a couple of girls from Alabama, one of whom I remain great friends with today. She likes to remind me I cried when I first saw the size of my Old Town bedroom and closet, because nothing would fit in it! (That was actually my first non-liberating closet purge.) We all had starter salaries and often frequented the FISH MARKET for cheap and large schooners of beer, felt lucky to have a Nine West outlet for all our high heel needs right there on “Main” Street, and we wouldn’t have dared step foot in the Lee Street Park with those noisy kids running around all over the place.
While I sometimes long for those carefree days and roommates to ask which pair of earrings they like better, I am thrilled my bedroom, closet, and interests have expanded just a little bit. I do still live in Old Town after all–right on Prince Street just blocks away from that first little row house on S. Lee. I have stayed here, because I love this town, and I have gladly traded in my Nine West heels for Lee Street Park-friendly wedges but this time from THE SHOE HIVE. I love the history and architecture of course, but mostly, I love the people in it. Over the last 18 years, Alexandria has become my home. I have built a community here I am so proud of.
Please join me this summer as I share with you the details of planning our wedding, my favorite tried-and-true places, the people of Alexandria I have grown to love all while I continue to scout out the best of the new.
In life’s most joyful moments and in the darkest of hours and seemingly impossible circumstances, there is grace. Abundant grace always abounds if you allow yourself to see it. This I know, and these are my lessons in grace.
Read about what came before Sweetness Follows at TeamKennett.com.