I met Alix last year at the BC Book Awards. She had just won the Amazon First Novel Award and the night we met she won the Ethel Wilson Award for the best novel in B.C. So obviously, she’s brilliant. But there’s also something about her that suggests it would be impossible to be bored in her presence. She’s got a vibe and overall look somewhere between classy and profoundly subversive. My suspicions about her were borne out when she took her practically rightful place on the Lieutenant Governor’s throne after the ceremony at Government House. I immediately loved her and she’s the first person I thought of when I came up with the idea for this blog series. Here’s Alix.
I found my prom dress in a box in the garage a while ago. I’m too proud of the fact that I can still get into it (thanks, 1990s flared skirt). All my high school years, I wanted a blue velvet dress–I can’t say why, though maybe it had something to do with Twin Peaks?
Kelowna shopping offered no such thing, anyway. I can’t sew and couldn’t then, so I went to the barnlike fabric place and chose some cushy deep-navy velvet. I found a dress pattern in a thick book: off-the-shoulder, scalloped neckline, fitted bodice, tea-length. That sounded really good, maybe slightly yesteryear, with a Jane Austenish whiff. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a lot of Nineties girls went through Austen phases, as well as David Lynch ones.
The store had an in-house seamstress, a taciturn type with a grey perm. She eyed the pattern, and me, and said it was worth a try. A few weeks later, she bundled me into her fitting cubicle and tugged the finished dress over my head, zipping and twitching professionally. She said, around the pins in her mouth, that it was a good fit. And that it was good material, the right material. This seemed like total approval, which I was always after.
I wore it to my prom at the fancy new lakeside hotel, where I spent half the evening weeping–exam fatigue, teen angst, sickness and despair in the world. I wore it again for the evening gown portion of the Miss Kelowna pageant (if you must ask, go here). It’s in my closet now, a blue ghost of my old blue self, dripping with teenage feelings. I like to haunt the house in it once in a while, singing old songs.
Photos by Mark Hawley, who is also a genuine Fire Inspector.
You can visit Alix’s website here. You should probably buy her books and read everything she writes.