Sometimes you just need to escape to Long Island Sound for a day and spend some quality time hanging out with eels and jellies and delicate pipefish and sea dragons, you know?
My “year of aquariums” (I’ve visited four so far!) continued this weekend with a trip to an institution in Connecticut that claims the title of the “best aquarium in New England”–and as I happen to have visited all the other aquariums in New England, I tend to agree. I appreciated the focus on the local ecosystems of Connecticut waters and the opportunity to take my best photograph of a moray eel yet! (You’ll have to click through to see him in all his glory: though if elongated, toothy fish don’t charm you as much as they do me, perhaps you should sit this one out…)
Two years ago today, I published my first cautious “outfit of the day” post, showing off what would become two classic staples of my personal aesthetic: Peter Pan collars and nods to marine biology. At the time, I possessed only that one vintage-style dress, and I wore it so often that I ended up buying its twin in another color. I’d never identified as someone who was Into Fashion, but there was just something about that dress–as soon as I zipped it up, I felt like a cheerful, quick-witted girl detective equipped to handle anything with anachronistic flair.
In the time since, acquiring pieces for my quirky wardrobe allowed me to feel more confident and more myself than I’d ever been in jeans and sweaters or Young Professional Workplace Wear. Now, if I so desire, I have the ability to wear colorful retro dresses literally every day. Even a skirt decorated with galactic, bioluminescent mermaids and sea creatures is at my fingertips! But — as my absence from this blog might have suggested — over the past few months, I’ve begun to lose confidence in my bold fashion. In some moments of confusion, I’ve almost wondered if I might have to abandon the style that I love and start showing up in slacks or skater skirts!
Every time I think I’ve finally acquired the paragon of ocean-themed dresses, another fabric designer decides to add more nautiloids and seahorses to their novelty print!
I wore this for the first time on my last day of work, and it seems a fitting ensemble for new beginnings. The menagerie of sea creatures softly swirling* in these watercolored aquamarine polyester depths soothe me as I transition into life as a student again!**
*I don’t fully understand why those scallops and sea stars and conch shells are just suspended in what is presumably the middle of the water, but perhaps this skirt is more of a fabric tidepool!
**Plus, this is also the best match I’ve found for my turquoise-haired mermaid brooch so far!
Feast your eyes on this sparkly cephalopod! I may have spent a good amount of last week gushing about my love for ocean sunfish, but the mola mola’s biggest competition for my favorite sea creature has to be the cuttlefish.
Oh Plesiosaur released this shiny enamel pin just days after I returned from our trip to Monterey. It was destiny! Now I can wear it to work, hoping it will catch some wayward museum employee’s eye and make them wonder which alien-of-the-sea is hanging out on my lapel!
An alternative title for this post could be “PLUSH MOLA, PLUSH MOLA, PLUSH MOLA.” In fact, I don’t know why I’m even bothering to write any content when I could just type look at this mola ad infinitum. Who is the genius responsible for mass-producing a cuddly version of the world’s heaviest bony fish?
My soft little sunfish, however, wasn’t the only treasure I picked up at the Monterey Bay gift shop! Hey, if people can blog about what they’ve hauled back from Disneyland or Sephora or whatever, why can’t I share the ridiculous souvenirs I picked up from my favorite tourist attraction? As one might say in a sea shanty–haul away boys, away!
On days such as this, I’m all the more eager to continue my plan of absconding to Atlantis, living beneath the waves in an isolated society of my own design.
A lost oceanic city may not be real (yet!), but there’s always Monterey Bay Aquarium, my personal “happiest place on Earth!” I could have stared into those seemingly endless open-ocean tanks forever, gazing at the soft spiraling arms of kelp until I was lulled into a meditative state to match the New Age music that constantly plays in these watery halls.
I come from a family of dedicated, competitive beachcombers. We’ve established a daily morning beach ritual during our trips to Kona, and have also encountered sea glass and shells on both U.S. coasts.
There’s not much in the way of wisdom that I can impart to aspiring beachcombers, since it’s a very personal, simple activity: all you need is a shoreline and the willingness to look closely. So take the notes that follow with a grain of salt (or, perhaps, sand) and go out there yourself, if you can! You never know what you might discover!