Koko & Palenki (in the Shops At Merrick Park) at 358 San Lorenzo Avenue, Coral Gables, Florida 33146
I’d like to say things have been pretty normal since my last blog post, “One Stop Glam Shop,” but the truth is — they’re not. I’ve had the worst case of anxiety and some crazy nightmares to go along with it. Believe it or not…
It’s because of the Zika Virus scare in South Florida. I keep dreaming that I’m being attacked (actually, more like swarmed) by thousands of bugs. More specifically, mosquitoes. I wake up startled in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, sometimes crying.
Calming my nerves at 3 am isn’t easy, but I make my way to the kitchen and pour myself a tall cup of orange juice. For whatever reason, it calms me. I’m not the only one its affecting…
My poor boyfriend (James) has become a mosquito-killing ninja, locking himself in different rooms of our house when I’m convinced I’ve spotted a flying intruder. Armed with a can of RAID and a towel to swat with, he doesn’t leave the room until the insect is vanquished. Sometimes, though, he comes up empty-handed and my anxiety turns to panic. He’s such a good sport…
I know he does it because he loves me. I mean, why else in God’s name would he lock himself into a room with a blood-sucking mosquito, risking his own health and well-being? All this hoopla (by the way) isn’t unwarranted…
Some people who are infected with Zika actually get GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome.) Yup, the illness that almost killed me a few years ago. The good folks over at the Centers for Disease Control say Zika is showing up in Miami from abroad.
In other words, people who’ve been bitten by mosquitoes elsewhere come here and voila! — Zika is now part of our viral landscape. Even though it’s highly unlikely mosquitoes here would carry the Zika virus, it’s still possible and it doesn’t make me feel any better. After all, GBS is extremely rare, but I still managed to get it despite being healthy, strong and young.
Sure, yeah, I recovered with IVIG (Intravenous Immunoglobulin) and relentless physical therapy, but man, the wound is still deep and the threat of getting it again is utterly terrifying. I’d be lying if I said I was over it: residual neuropathy and spine pain are still very much a part of my everyday life. I’ve just learned to live with it.
So, what does a “Little White Dress” have to do with any of this? At the very height of my Zika neurosis, I got a call to host an event featuring up-and-coming jewelry designer, Phebbs Svester, who was unveiling her UMEE Life collection to South Florida fashionistas.
Along with all the other ladies participating in the event, I was asked to wear white. For the record, I hate this request. You know how it is: white is in every single store until you actually need it. Then, poof! — it’s magically extinct. So, I immediately reached out to my fashionable friends at Koko & Palenki, who said they indeed had a few options.
As soon as I saw their new “Little White Dress” by Alexis, I was completely smitten. The sheer lace detailing and whimsical appliqués border on angelic. I paired the dress with Koko’s white caged high heels and a multi-colored, silk DVF clutch that they had gifted me years ago (right around the same time I was recovering from my illness).
I felt so beautiful in the dress, I decided to blog about it at the last minute. And the event? It was definitely something I was meant to be a part of. UMEE Life jewelry (the name is a combination of YOU & ME =’s LIFE) isn’t just about fashion, it’s a company based on good karma, positive energy and self-transcendence.
“You always get what you give,” said one of the moderators at the event. She also declared: “Whatever you believe in and whatever you think is actually who you are and what you’re asking of the universe.” Her words immediately resonated with me.
Even though I truly believed in “Cause and Effect” (which was basically what she was saying), it was something I had lost sight of. Living scared of the Zika Virus isn’t something I wanted to send out into the universe. What’s more, being afraid of getting sick again isn’t the person I had become after my illness. Instead…
I had become genuinely happy for my new lease on life and I didn’t waste my time on things like “what if” and “would have, could have, should have’s.” So, in my perfect “Little White Dress” (a color that represents wiping the slate clean) I let go of the fear, worry and anxiety that was “bugging” me and remembered living joyfully in the moment (even if I was wearing a lot of mosquito repellant) was definitely one of my favorite things.
Facebook: Koko Palenki
Styling: Jackie Kay
Hair & MUA by Odett Hernandz
Editor: Matthew Auerbach