At the time, we didn’t have the Internet. We had magazines. The magazines told us about the world, because we were living in a place that was far away from it. All we could hope for was almosts: almost fashion; almost music; almost art. Things looked like other things, but in the end weren’t them, exactly. There was an oxblood-red nail polish made by a famous French company that was called one thing in America, another in Europe. Where we lived it was called neither, or sometimes both, by the few who knew it, and wanted to bolster this knowledge somehow, make it public. It was the color of the season, and we read about it in the magazines, but by the time we finally got it, the season had passed. When it arrived, it didn’t look as we had imagined it would. We wanted it to be darker, smoother; we wanted it to never leave us; we wanted to become it and for it to become us. This, however, was impossible.

Naomi Fry is a writer and the copy chief at T: The New York Times Style Magazine