Just before we moved to Abu Dhabi two years ago, I bought something I'd never owned before: a ball gown.
Having lived in New Hampshire for more than a decade, I was accustomed to donning waterproof boots, jeans, and a good wool sweater when I left the house. I wore heels only to church on Sunday - that is, if it wasn't snowing, raining, muddy, or icy.
I remember the day I bought this fancy long dress. I was in New York for the weekend, clearing out my family home after my mother died. I took a break from what was a sad task and decided to check out a nice clothing shop nearby. I spotted an elaborate silk ball gown in the "clearance" corner.
Was I crazy? I'd entered the shop in search of conservative, lightweight, cotton skirts and pants for hot weather in a Muslim country, and now I was holding a ball gown. Maybe not, I told myself. I remembered reading it was handy to have something formal in Abu Dhabi.
I nervously paid for the dress, half feeling that such things were for other ladies and not me. But as the clerk carefully pulled a garment bag over the gown, she smiled and said, "Lucky you to have somewhere to wear this." Even in this upscale New York shop, most of the apparently affluent customers were buying casual clothes.
As I pack for the move home, I see five ball gowns in my closet*, and it doesn't seem like such a big deal.
*(Now I'll see if M really reads this blog. By the way, I didn't pay very much for any one of these dresses: it's a surprising thing that you can easily find affordable ball gowns in Abu Dhabi. Really.)