Anyone who has spent time around me recently knows that I am a huge Marie Kondo fan. She authored the book (THE book) on decluttering your home and your life and after reading it this summer, I was sold. Purge, purge, clean out, discard, give away, purge… Repeat until clutter is gone and order in its place.

Happy sigh.

Until last weekend.


At some point in the decluttering  process I got rid of all my formal dresses from events past. I hadn’t needed them recently and they were taking up space, so out the door they went, alongside books I’ll never read and tshirts I really should have gotten ride of two holes ago.

But last weekend my plans changed and in the blink of about three texts messages and fifteen minutes, I was going to be attending the Marine Corps Ball at the US Embassy.


Oh Marie Kondo. What had we done?? I had nothing even passable as a formal dress, not to mention I had chucked all my real heels in favor of more sensible-in-sand wedges.

Fortunately my petite Panamanian friend came to my rescue and dressed me nearly from head to toe. Happy sigh again!


The Ball was lovely and it was so fun to see so many people from different corners of my life in Dakar all together, all dressed up and dancing away. One big highlight for me though was when we stood for the US National Anthem and I felt so incredibly, truly American.


Because we choose to live and raise our kids abroad,  I am conscious that we are different from many Americans. And when we go to the US, I feel even more aware of how not-American I am. But in that moment tonight at the Marine Corps Ball, I felt more American than I have in years. It was such a special moment for me that I will hold on to for many years.

That and one formal dress. Just in case…