Monday, May 3, 2010

Beauty and the Beach


Kim Usay dedicates this post to her mom:

"I wish I had my parents' 27 carousels of Kodachrome slides, because there are some incredible style shots of my mother tucked here and there among the rest. In a sleeveless Hawaiian wedding dress, cream with bright red and tropical green amaryllis print, leaning on the rail of the balcony of the room at the Ilikai, overlooking Waikiki as the wind blew her newly blonde bob across her face, as she met my father halfway between the States and Vietnam for the one week of leave he had from his tour in Southeast Asia in 1967... with perfectly straight long hair falling from a perfectly straight center part, in an ethnic-print polyester minidress and leather boots, both up to here, slim and tall behind her four- and one-year-old at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, in early 1973 ... her Jackie O bob and big round tortoiseshell sunglasses that have the locals in Ankara, Turkey, calling out "Jackie! Jackie!" as she navigates the market with her own little Caroline and John-John...

But the only actual photo I have on hand of my mother's lovely style is this print, a snapshot taken by my father on Wrightsville Beach on North Carolina's Atlantic coast. Her style is effortless, partly because she is so beautiful to begin with. Those slim white cropped pants with navy sweater and white canvas shoes... the bandana keeping her hair from flying... that straw and leather satchel... I love the look, and I know she gave it hardly any thought. It is two months after they started dating, and he has driven her two hours to Wrightsville from Ft. Bragg, where her disapproving parents have no idea that they have taken off to the beach for the day. He is a rakish Army captain, 26, one marriage and one Vietnam tour behind him. She is a Lutheran pastor/Army chaplain's daughter, an accomplished pianist who plays the organ for five different church services on post each Sunday, wanting to become a psychologist but denied the chance to go to California for college because her parents want her there at home and studying music. She has already left that local college, works at a Putt-Putt, isn't sure where her life is heading. She has turned 19 just a few weeks before, and when he asks her to marry him, that sunny April afternoon in the Wrightsville dunes, she says yes."

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