I’m a sucker for the sparkles.

This is the story of how I ended up buying a flashy beach cover-up that has no business being seen at my neighborhood pool, let alone on me, and that I am unlikely to wear. Ever.

Blue smoky puffs waft through pale, diaphanous fabric. Metallic silver and gold threads run its length. The threads are exactly like those of my favorite shirt as a teen – four decades ago. That shirt was plaid. Yes – metallic threads in a plaid pattern. You’d think no one would try that, but they did, and I wore it. I wore that baby out.

Fast forward to a dressing room this June, as I try on this new number. The phrase about not wearing a trend twice flits through my brain. Whatevs. I let that thought pass through and keep on going. Yoga skills. This cover-up has a few rows of small ruffles towards the ends of the sleeves, and a flirty flounce that looks like scalloped edges a few inches above its hem. Ruffles aren’t really my thing in a cover-up, and small ruffles on sleeves aren’t really my thing anytime. But the shimmery threads tug at me.

I’ve shared my story of pool bling, so you know I’m a sucker for the sparkles even without the aforementioned shirt nostalgia. I try to put it in the “Nope” pile, but I know it will forever be “the one that got away”. Other thoughts flitter through my mind. This beach cover-up is not compatible with any bathing suit I own. It’s more than a little impractical considering my pool hours are spent at the neighborhood pool, not a resort in Baja or Bali. No matter. I convince myself that it would look great on a cruise or on some Caribbean beach. Neither is in my immediate future, but either could manifest…if I just had this cover-up to inspire me to action.

Fast forward to my home this July. Each day I walk into my closet and see this cover-up sitting in limbo, waiting to be worn or moved into a drawer with the other beach wear. Each day I think, “I like you, but no, today is not your day.” I know if it takes up residence in the drawer I’ll never wear it. So I move it to a dress form. Maybe seeing it on display will increase its chances of being worn. Au contraire…I’m confronted instead with stark reality.

Someone experienced in design could put better words to it, but in layman’s terms this cover-up is a hot mess of design elements. It’s like a cooking challenge where you get a basket with caviar, chocolate bars, nectarines, and broccoli and you’re supposed to make a cohesive meal with it. Each is good, but together?? Seeing it on the dress form I realize this cover-up has some great attributes, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Now I’m faced with the inevitable question…

What am going to do with this thing?!

The summer is officially over, and I never did wear it. Do I keep it, put it in the drawer and hope that one day I’ll want to wear it more than today?

Or maybe cut my losses and donate it? There’s someone out there that would love this and may actually have occasion to wear it.

Or maybe take scissors to those sleeves…Could getting rid of those ruffles do enough?

What would you do? Drop a line in the comments, I’d love to know!

I could be in Avalon…you never know.

The past few days of 90+ degree weather drove me indoors into air conditioning. Walking man’s best friend this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find more reasonable temperatures, a slight breeze, and much-reduced humidity. My response: coffee on the deck, listening to birds, gazing at flowers, and planning a day with some outside activity. “I’ll head to the pool for a swim,” I thought. But when? I launched my trusty weather app to help find the cross-hairs of my schedule and acceptable temperatures. Wide-eyed I stared at a glorious forecast – a week of sunny, beach-worthy weather with temps in the 70s. It would have felt worlds away just yesterday.

My exuberance was brief. I realized I’d left the app on the weather for Avalon. Not King Arthur’s version, although it may as well have been considering how dreamy and fantastical it seemed. I was looking at the weather for Avalon on Catalina Island. You see, I save locations in my weather app for places I might like to be other than here. Reston weather is rarely brutal, but let’s face it: Catalina Island, Maui, Hilton Head – they usually have it better. Every once in awhile I forget to swipe back to Reston. Following those days, as today, I open the app and am transported into a climate far better than my own. It is a fleeting but beautiful experience. Shortly thereafter, I spend moments wondering why I’m not there, or when I might be there, or how I might get there.

As to Avalon, I considered several years ago that, at some point in my future, I could choose to work remotely from there for a month or two. I’m a consultant, and even before the pandemic, much of my work lent itself to the virtual and digital. Now that the world has revisited the value of in-person work, that plan seems even more likely. I was on Catalina once for a day as a child. It was worthy of a return. When my nest is empty, I would relish living like a local and getting to know the place beyond a travel brochure. I can close my eyes and imagine looking out a window to see the bowl-shaped port full of white ships just beyond my balcony’s rail, the smell of salt air on the breeze.

Today I scheduled in a swim, and paid attention to staying hydrated in our 90 degree weather. But if I keep reminders of my dreams close by…well…you never know. I could be in Avalon someday.

Anything looks good in this frame.

When you arrive at the Farmers Market and they’re still setting up, you know you’re too early. I hadn’t visited in over a year, and hadn’t bothered to check the time. How could I literally have beat the farmers? Well, according to the sign, I was 40 minutes early today, with nothing to do. I say, “nothing”, but there’s always something to do at Lake Anne. Watching the water ripple. Watching geese cruise the lake’s center. Looking at beautiful flowers and plants hanging off private balconies. Watching the sun rise a little bit higher. And window shopping.

So it was that I found myself walking on the lake’s short boardwalk , glancing across at Reston Art Gallery & Studios. In the first window, a small, vibrant abstract lived in a thick gold frame. Even from 20 feet away, I could see that the frame brought out its rich colors. It occurred to me that you could put pretty much anything in that frame, and it would be worthy of your best wall. I kept moving. The next window featured a seascape. Two boats floated close together near a pebbled shore. The unframed canvas wasn’t very large, but it had a reflective quality that drew me in. I could smell the sea air, touch the water, I could walk into it. I wanted to be there.

I continued walking for awhile. On the way back I chose the sidewalk closer to the windows. I wanted to know more about the paintings. I reached the seascape first. The Dorothy Donahey piece looked very different from 2 feet away. The colors and strokes that produced its reflective qualities from a distance looked more pronounced. I still liked it, but the experience of it was different. I liked new things about it. I could see the boats were tethered together and to the shore. One was smaller than the other, I felt they had a relationship. I backed away a few feet, and the reflective quality I loved was also back. Beautiful!

With somewhat less interest I walked on to the next window, and saw the gold-framed work I’d dismissed earlier. But when I got in front of it, I could see it for what it was. Rosemarie Forsythe’s swirls were stunning. Gold, red, and blues moved and glowed in front of me. I hadn’t seen its beauty at all from 20 feet away, not because it wasn’t there but because I wasn’t where I needed to be to see it.

Perspective is everything. And having more than one perspective helps us know a thing better. I now realize I didn’t arrive at the Farmer’s Market early today. I arrived right on time.