Photo and hammock courtesy of Stephanie Zito
Almost exactly a month ago, I found myself in Luang Prabang, Laos. It’s not a very big city, and having already devoted one day to hanging with the monks, I allowed myself multiple evenings wandering up and down the night market, filled with jewelry, handbags, t-shirts that read Same Same But Different, and stalls upon stalls of the traditional Laotian skirt, the Sinhs.
A long skirt worn by the vast majority of women in Laos, the fabrics boast rich colors and patterns, and though I admired them from a distance, I had no plans of purchasing one. I’m not a conformist by nature, but I’m certainly no trendsetter, and I just couldn’t picture myself wearing this skirt back home in Brooklyn.
But then I saw it: a fabric that stopped me in my tracks. A deep, rich, poppycock blue material with two rows of tiny elephants (my new favorite animal) embroidered in gold thread on the bottom.
For the equivalent of $5, how could I not?
I saved the skirt for my first day of 32, when I wore it to Utopia Bar, the universally attributed hotspot of Luang Prabang. I read Facebook birthday messages while drinking my fruit smoothie and watching the sky transform from a pale periwinkle to a dark ink littered with a handful of stars, like glitter haphazardly strewn on a 5th grade art project.
I wore the skirt again two weeks later on one of my favorite days of my travels: a dawn to dusk long-tale boat ride on Inle Lake in Myanmar.
And last week, in Phnom Penh, I had it made into a dress, because in Cambodia if you can dream it, someone can create it.
Now, I have a dress that’s also a souvenir, and a personal scrapbook of sorts.
And when it no longer fits me?
I can come back to Cambodia and have it made into another memory.