I recently moved from New York, where I had been living for a little over ten years, to Los Angeles, where I once cried on a bus. Moving is always a series of small nightmares adding up to one large one, and moving cross-country more so. A large part of that nightmare involves going through the contents of one's closet to see what sort of horrors and memories can be effectively cut from one's life and passed on to Goodwill or Beacon's Closet or a burning pyre.
Given that New York City is the place where I became an adult, moving from my teen years to something like adulthood, I had amassed a collection of clothes that I had once found appealing but had come to view as embarrassing, repulsive, ridiculous or sad. Chances are, you have — or had — some similar tokens of a past life laying at the back of a drawer, or somewhere in a wardrobe, collecting dust and memories. Let's shake them out and give them away.
A Gift and a Curse
My mother spoils me. Every time she goes to TJ Maxx or Marshall's or Target, she'll see something she likes for me, and will send it my way. She is too good to me, my mom, a veritable saint. And I love her for it. But sometimes the things she sends are polyester palazzo pants, two sizes too large and six inches too long, with a design reminiscent of that rainbow-colored sand art so favored by camp counselors. So many colors. Colors I had never known existed, all laid out in striation against one another, like a multi-car pileup. Kind of like the ones on the left here.
I kept these pants in a drawer, and tried not to look at them. For months. For years. I moved these, and similar items, from place to place, like Sisyphus moving a rock his mother had sent him from Home Goods. But with the move, we parted, the young woman at Beacon's Closet carefully avoiding eye contact as she gently pushed them away.
The Lesson: Guilt does not a good wardrobe make, and my mother will never learn my pants size.
Ages ago, when I was young and stupid and adorable, I dressed as a French maid for Halloween (not entirely voluntarily). The costume was one of those highly flammable affairs you purchase at Ricky's at the very last minute on Halloween Day. I kept the costume, thinking that, by pairing it with the right things (there is no right thing; all is wrong), I could repurpose it as day wear.
Thankfully for present me, past me never did end up wearing that dress again. But I did hold on to it for far too long.
The Lesson: Hope springs eternal in the hearts of young women unwise enough to visit Ricky's on Halloween Day.
The Impulse Purchase
I don't know why I owned silver leggings. And perhaps I never will.
The Lesson: We all make mistakes.
Tragedy Plus Time
Who could understand why it is that we enjoy the things we do. Why is it that one would think, simply because it is suggested by a fashion magazine, that it would ever be a good idea to cut a pair of jeans into a skirt? And then doodle song lyrics on it in fabric pen? I think I might have even drawn a peace sign on it. And, yet, I really cherished that stupid, stupid little skirt. Now that whatever head injury that brought it on has cleared, it seems a sign of a more naive, less self-conscious time. A time of possibility, when anything could have happened. Even skirts with peace signs on them.
I would venture to guess that we all have something like this — something utterly embarrassing that, with the passing of time, becomes almost cute. That said, you will still never wear it. Best to give it away and live in the moment.
And, that way, you can pretend it never happened.
The Lesson: Time heals most wounds, including those brought on by DIY jean skirts and cargo pants, conch shell necklaces or v-neck crop tops.