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    BWS Stories - Contest Winners

    Contest Winners - The Gypsy in Me

    Robin Ehrlichman Woods writes for anthologies, parenting and women’s publications, specializing in personal experience and nonfiction essays. Her children prefer to dress as inscrutable characters for Halloween, such as “Pasta Primavera” and “Death and Taxes.”

    The Gypsy in Me

    I was a chubby klutzy kid forced to wear sensible clothes: navy blue pleated skirts, white Peter Pan collar blouses and itchy wool plaid pants. My Nana slipped me secret gifts of ruffled socks adorned with lace, ribbon and seed pearls to break the fashion monotony as I yearned to wear exotic garments and live a Bohemian lifestyle.

    Halloween was my one chance to break out of my Plain Jane rut and spread my wings like a colorful peacock. My Mom gave in to her artistic side and concocted the most beautiful costumes for me from her extensive wardrobe. Although she made me wear durable, understated clothes to school, her closet held the softest silks, the lushest cashmeres and rainbow hued satins.

    My favorite Halloween costume was culled from the treasure trove. I dressed as a gypsy in one of Mom’s Indian cotton long skirts (thank goodness she was tiny and petite or I would have broken my neck) adorned with mirrors, shot through with gold threads. She wrapped handfuls of silk scarves around my waist, accessorized with large hoop earrings and stacks of silver and gold bracelets up and down each of my arms.

    I thought I would die of excitement as she used her palette of cosmetics to create bright red lips and stripes of colored eye shadow on my baby-fat face. When I looked into the mirror, I saw a wild, exotic gypsy girl instead of a Brooklyn-bound little child. I craved the freedom to be a different person for one night, going door to door as neighbors Oohed and Aahed over my dramatic transformation. I didn’t care whether I collected a bag full of candy that night. I wanted to walk for miles, showing off the colorful me whom I knew lived inside.

    If I close my eyes, I can conjure up my long-ago Halloween nights as if it were yesterday. I feel my joy anew and realize that it’s no mistake that I wear the most colorful clothes I can find, accessorized with crazy shoes chosen for their funkiness. My Mom saw the gypsy in me but knew that I had to grow into myself before my fashion sense and artistic bent were unleashed to the world.

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