The Great Craigslist Wedding-Dress-In-A-Tree Adventure

by Emily McFarlan Miller

Our adventure begins when Sarah Pulliam Bailey posts this Craigslist listing, “New never worn wedding dress size 4 stuck in tree (Pilsen),” on Facebook:

Ha ha ha, was airing out items on my fire escape, wind blew this gorgeous dress into the tree, I am moving and don’t have the energy to get it out, originally priced at $4grand. Backless classy dress. Bring some kind of pole to get it out, before it rains…

Sarah said, “Only in America would you nonchalantly say something like I don’t have the energy to go get my $4,000 wedding dress out of a tree and then put it on craigslist.”

Only in America would somebody else, some bold, entrepreneurial spirit, then think it would be a grand adventure to go and get that dress out of the tree and sell it online.

Tonight, that somebody was me. Also, my husband and our friend Kristin who both were sitting at the kitchen table eating figs and homemade ice cream and looking for the color green and the word “nicht” on the German website to check if our computers had the “DNSChanger” malware when I saw Sarah’s post and decided, “You guys, WE CAN DO THIS.” After all, we had a spear, a broomstick, some packing tape, very little money and absolutely no shame. And Joel has been trying to convince me to sell my wedding dress online this past year to put toward that trip to Europe we always talk about but never will be able to afford on the combined income of a newspaper reporter and commercial real estate agent. An idea, despite my yen for travel, I am not yet entirely sold on.

So we piled into Joel’s car with our spear (a souvenir from his mission trip, at age 13, to Vanuatu), our broomstick and our packing tape and drove to Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, craning our necks for a flash of ivory in the trees, and there it was, I swore, right in front of the fire escape and the address I had saved in my phone. Joel threw the car in reverse and parked it while I danced around a tree with a plastic bag caught in its branches, second-guessed myself and then realized I was dancing around the wrong tree.

The dress was there, alright, stuck in the tree, pretty high up. (There also was what appeared to be some kind of animal bone skewered on a low-hanging branch.) The spear wasn’t going to reach. The broomstick wasn’t going to reach. Joel shimmied up the bare trunk while I marvelled this man had married me, taped the spear and broomstick together and lobbed it up to him. While he was jabbing at the dress and I was positioning myself underneath it (and my husband), arms outstretched, a hipster guy in a particularly hipster hat, the kind of guy who probably says things like “the Pilsen Artist’s Corridor” as if that is a real neighborhood, asked Kristin if we were from around here. The dress had been his, and he had bought it fairly cheap at a thrift store, he said. So much for “new” and “never-worn” and the “$4grand” we’d envisioned.

With that, the dress came free. It billowed in the air and landed, whump, in my arms. And then Kristin and I ran down the sidewalk doing this:

One of my favorite passages from the book “Love Does” by Bob Goff is his description of his friend Doug, who “was full of adventure and always had some mischief in mind.” Goff described Jesus as “another man of adventure.” He said:

“I never wanted religion. I didn’t understand it and didn’t particularly want to either. To be honest, I thought religion was for wimpy guys who didn’t get into mischief.”

It isn’t. In fact, Jesus invites the mischief-makers who go shimmying up trees. And, sure, sometimes that mischief doesn’t go as planned. You don’t end up with $4,000 and a trip to Europe in the end. But, Goff said, “God doesn’t think any less of us when things don’t go right. Actually, I think He plans on it.”

Looking over the dress now, it’s not likely we’ll get much more from it than a good story. It’s not “new” and “never-worn,” although I suspect it is a size 4, judging by the way it doesn’t quite zip up my back. It’s an A-line halter dress with a low back that ends in a cascade of flowers and a small train. The tag says “The Diamond Collection,” which I cannot find online. It’s a little wrinkled, and the part that fastens around the neck is starting to pull away from the rest of the dress.

It definitely needs a little energy, but I still plan to sell it online, although not for anything grand. Someone more chalant will get a steal. And we got an adventure.

Photo credit: Photo No. 1 via Craigslist. Photos No. 2 and 3, posted on Instagram.