I have twin nieces, Jeanne and Claire. They are four and they are connoisseurs of costumes. Their mother is French and my brother is not. Julie (my sister in law) is beautiful, clever, warm, and very French. She can put on a burlap sack and a scarf around her neck and she could go to a cocktail party at the Met. She understands that her daughters, my nieces, love costumes. But only certain colors. And with certain trims. They are, after all, half French.
I started buying them costumes when they were very small. All kinds of costumes in all kinds of colors and trims. But Jeanne, the oldest twin, only loves the blue dress. The blue dress has been worn for the past year, and is now a rather grey, torn, dirty, ragamuffin blue dress. That does not matter to Jeanne. She prefers it to all the other costumes and will wear it when no one is looking. I purchased several other costumes this week, and yes, included princess dresses for the girls to try on. They would not even attempt the “Jasmine” (Aladdin Princess) harem pants outfit. They both wrinkled their noses. They murmured something in their four year old French about the color. I still don’t know what they said about it, but the color was so unfortunate, that they could not try it on. “Mais non, ” was all I could get out of them about this particular costume. And unfortunately for my brother (who does not like this princess dress attachment) I also bought a larger size of the dreaded “blue dress” for Jeanne.
When Jeanne saw the new “blue dress” she immediately shot her hands in the air, to be changed immediately out of her current costume, so she could try on the familiar dress. She wore it most of the weekend. With pearls, with a stuffed dog, and also with a purple floral fan. But no other dress was worn, or even considered. Claire, her sister, wore a variety of the costumes I brought for them. She seemed enthused, but never expressed any interest in her sister’s blue dress.
I marvel at this attachment to an idea, a costume, a color, a dress. I wonder how many of my old ideas, about myself, my writing, the plays I have loved, I continue to wear. I became really aware of the contrast of embracing a new idea with an old idea, when I saw Jeanne’s old dress lying on the floor next to the new one. How much love and energy and time had been spent in the old dress.