Chelle Summer

Keeping the Dream Alive

Michelle Rusk

I have this memory of my sister Denise. I’m not exactly sure where we were, somewhere in Florida, and we’re playing in the waves. I was in high school and she was in junior high. I remember us laughing and the sense of feeling free that we had, a trip Mom had taken us on when she worked for Midway Airlines.

On this past Friday morning while I was out running, I missed Denise. But as I thought about it more, I realized what I missed is not being able to share Chelle Summer with her because so much of what she and I did together– drawing, making houses and clothes for a our Barbies– and the late 1970s into early 1980s and the styles of that time– form the nucleus of Chelle Summer.

And then I remembered that she is with me. We can’t have a conversation, which is what I felt I wanted when i was thinking about her, but she is still part of this journey. I just wished I could share with her the influence our time together has on what I’m doing today– share it in a way where we have a two-way conversation.

Then I began to think how there probably would be no Chelle Summer if she were here. I probably would be a sports journalist or something similar. While I will never truly know, I’m not sure I would have tapped into our style and fashion history to build Chelle Summer.

The reality is that I can’t bring her back and because of that I’ve tried to embrace the journey as much as possible. This has become more prevalent to me in each passing year and the more I embrace it, the more creative I’ve become. So in a sense Denise is responding by helping me choose what I create.

And that’s enough for me, even on days when I doubt everything, that I am keeping the dream alive. And I won’t give up until I get where I want to be.