There are articles of clothing which, no matter how long I keep them, still aren’t my style. The fact that they droop from flimsy wire hangers only makes them more pathetic. I admit I prefer wire hangers for certain items, which begs the question, does anyone else hear Joan Crawford repeatedly screeching, “No more wire hangers!” when they clean out their closet, or is it just me?
Judging by the number of pajamas I sorted according to season, one might think I live in them. Although there have definitely been days of pajama loafing, blue jeans win out, hands down.
And speaking of jeans, it’s apparent from the storage location of the “pretty sexy things” I have acquired over the years that I clearly feel sexier in my jeans or even the aforementioned pajamas. I am guessing Jimmy may have a different perspective, but I doubt it involves clothes of any kind. Because he’s out of town, I’m almost positive an early morning wake-up call about lingerie preferences would not be welcome. So I fold them back into a drawer.
Having lived in California for the past 17 years, I have about ten bathing suits, but I am comfortable wearing only three of them. Judging by how threadbare they are, it’s past time to get comfortable with the other seven, or face my fear of ocean swims and get a wetsuit. As an aside — every bathing suit top I have ever owned somehow managed to shrug off the pad intended to cover the nipple, and they were all in a group together at the bottom of my bathing suit basket.
Some fashions do circle back around. My scarves have finally made it back to the fashion “do” list, and I am grateful I saved them.
While still on the clothes tangent, I should probably mention my overalls; regardless of how much crap I get when I wear them, I can’t throw them out. I have never been one to chase the latest fashion trends, and after sharing all of this, they’re unlikely to be seeking me out either.
Next up are hats. Alas, I really am not a sun hat girl. Seriously, if I wore one of those with my overalls? My personality leans more toward visors and caps, my favorite of which tell the world I am “redefining girly.”
Dust-coated and hanging from plastic hangers for their future days of glory are some of my suits. While most of their counterparts have been unceremoniously stuffed into bags that should be labeled “Dry cleaning I might do someday,” the small part of me that tends toward practicality thinks, “you never know.”
Last — a mini leather skirt. I felt its softness while wondering how it was possible that I ever fit into it. And I keep it; why? Perhaps as evidence of an era, coupled with regret of having donated my old leather motorcycle jacket. It doesn’t take up much space, and maybe my daughter will want to wear it as a vintage costume someday.
On to shoes. Mine tend toward flip-flops, UGG boots, and sneakers. And all previously separated socks are thrilled to be married again.
Long ago, I had a handbag obsession. I am glad it was short-lived because switching those around almost always resulted in my forgetting something.
My closet also houses sentimental mementos, items, and pictures. Some of them, I imagine, I will have until I die. Someone else will need to decide whether to toss them, donate them or keep them.
When my dad died, we did just that—sorted, sifted, and purged. Sadly, a lot of his stuff made its way to the enormous dumpster, which practically covered my parents’ driveway once my mother decided to move. Some of his “little things” I simply couldn’t bear to toss and even now, years later, I cleave to them. One of those items is his beret.
The last time I saw my dad while he was alert was in December 2005. He was living in an assisted living facility due to the stroke he had suffered. He was a shadow of his former self in so many ways. Yet, sometimes I could see him shimmering through the haze. One of those times, I offered to take him for a drive, and he happily nodded his agreement. Jacket, gloves, beret and a long walker-assisted stroll to the car later, we were driving. Directed by my father’s pointing and nodding, the miles clicked by until we arrived at the cemetery gate where months later, he would later be buried. My heart, head, and stomach protested, but this journey was about him, and he needed to see his future even if I did not. Standing by his gravesite, I looked back at him nestled in the car. Pointing to where I was, he nodded yes; feeling the blood drain from my face, I bent down and brushed the frozen ground, asking, hoping, praying for his peace. I still picture him in that rental van, beret on his head, showing me his final wish — to no longer mark the time. The hat is soft. I tuck it back in its place and whisper my thanks for having
had an incredible father.
Oh, there are other boxed-up treasures too, including the beautiful headband I wore when Jimmy and I were married 18 years ago. Just seeing it stirs my heart to the present and all that I hold so dear.
Everything is now either folded, hanging, or boxed. My closet life has been restored. I stand inside it and absently grab the framed photo propped on a shelf above my drawers. It is a picture I took while visiting Ground Zero, I paired it with an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
I will donate all the clothes and items purged to help support survivors of domestic violence — women who may never know my closet life but who also hold fast to their dreams and are taking steps to claim their future.