Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Clothes are like skin to me

While blundering around in my files trying to find something, I found this. It was originally written for my first blog, the late and never-lamented Open Salon thing that was eventually driven out of town by vicious, insular harpies who didn't think I had a right to be there. Fine.

This essay, while relevant, doesn't entirely apply now, because my closet has since been vastly pared down (though it's surprising how many of the pieces I mentioned are still there). But I'm once more in a cycle of weight loss/body change. The more you do this, the worse your final shape will be. Today I look like a melted cookie. But perhaps it's still good for my health.

My blog style has changed, in that I no longer try to do "good" writing. No one wants to see it , and I don't feel like doing it. I see other people's blogs now and think I am in a hospital room. But only because mine is like a basement or garage or tool shed with spiders crawling around in it. No one reads it anyway, right? Well, not many. So why have I spent my life doing this? Hmmmmmmm??

I'll no doubt realize the answer a few seconds before I expire. Meantime, read this, it's pretty good, even if I no longer write in this sort of essay style - it'd kill me with boredom now

This is the kind of job I could put off forever. I don’t just hate my bedroom closet, I fear it. Long ago my husband moved his stuff out. Like a miniature version of Hoarders, it tells stories that ain’t pretty. Everything is so tightly packed in there that it emerges squashed into  ripply pancaked wrinkles that are nearly impossible to get out.

I am tired of this great whale, this leviathan that I have to wrestle with each day just to find something to wear. I am powerless over my wardrobe, and my closet has become unmanageable.

The thing is, I take care of my clothes, almost fanatically. I hand-wash and I hang-dry and I don’t bleach and I do all those things the little tags tell me to do, or not do. Because they irritate shit out of me, I remove most of the tags surgically, with a stitch-ripper. I take such fanatic care, the result is that nothing dies. There are items from every year going back to (bllompfdhhd). Items going back to so many fluctuating weight levels, I’m embarrassed to even think about it.

Shape-shifters like myself have always had a hard time finding anything nice to wear. Not to mention pyramid-shapes whose hddd’pvlms are a tad larger than “normal”. And those with penguin-flippers for arms, so that shirt-cuffs lop down 2 or 3” longer than “normal”. Turned-back cuffs do not look casual, they look sloppy and weird, as if you’re a kid playing dressup.

My body is not normal and my psyche is not normal, so what do I do?  Recently I’ve been on yet another round of weight loss, and though I’m not trying very hard at all (and so far, not using a scale to prevent the usual salivating obsession), I’m getting results. ALL my coats fit, that is, the ones that aren’t a little tight, but they all button up. I’m slowly beating the “bottom button” curse which all pear shapes will know about, the top of a blouse fitting beautifully and the last button pulling violently apart as if it’s three sizes too small.

What’s getting me now is that I know I have to get rid of some stuff, if only to make room for the things I’ve just snarfed up in the spring sales. There are pants in there that go back to 115 (AD, not BC) and (gasp) 165. There are pants with high waists and pleats. There are sweaters shoved in the back, probably from the 1980s, with big firm shoulder pads.  (For me, with no shoulders to speak of, they were a great blessing, and I hated it when they went “out”). There are unwise purchases covered in glitter or beads or even feathers. And there are lots of things that I take out once in a while, look at and put back, convinced they’re too nice to wear. I’m not sure what I am saving them for.

Then there are those few (very few) indispensable pieces, things I just wear and wear because they make me feel good. Blazers have always made me look great, almost as if I know what I’m talking about, because they’re structured (and I’m not) and have shoulders (and I don’t), and I have a cranberry one in pinwale corduroy and cranberry is my favourite color, well, next to turquoise (and there’s that turquoise blouse, and the t-shirt I picked up in New Mexico with the little “milagro” all over it – the t-shirt that DOES NOT GRAB MY ASS!) And stuff like that.

A few years ago, stretch fabric stormed the racks. Now it seems to be everywhere, and damn I like it, maybe a little too much. This past weight gain, which I put down to the dense regime of medication I must use to keep my health from falling apart, everything just sort of – flexed. Suddenly I could sit down OK. Waists slid down at least an inch or two even on the most conservative clothes, which for some bizarre reason flatters me. What better excuse to buy this, and this, and this!  Three-quarter sleeves, now ubiquitous, solved another chronic fit problem.

But jesus guys, I can’t take this any more. I am in closet limbo. This place is ready to explode, and most of it isn’t even really wearable. If I cull out the dead wood, I tell myself, I will reveal to myself treasures that I had forgotten existed. I have every reason, but the thing is, I hate reason.

Clothes are like skin to me. Not that I always like them. Liking isn’t the point.  They represent me, in some way that makes them hard to bag up and throw out. I can’t imagine some other woman wearing them, not even someone shivering on a street corner. They’re too old and dowdy, for God’s sake! Well, not all of them. But by now they’ve taken on my shape and scent and form and give and take. An imprint. My “vibes”, you might say. Do I love them? Maybe, but that depends. What’s love?

This morning I am going to take two or three green garbage bags and set to, ruthlessly defoliate. Rip, rip, rip (and RIP). Big chunks will be pulled out by the roots, never to be replaced. Some things I will just have to try on, even if for the last time (for I am now 2” less in the hip than I was 3 months ago), to see if the miracle will happen.  Or not.

The great law is, supposedly, if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. How many times have I rediscovered something I haven’t worn in ten years, tried it on and thought, Jesus, where did I get this? Thank God I didn’t donate it. They just don’t make stuff like that any more! Then put it back in the closet where it will slowly work its way back to where it was.

These items wait in the wings. I will wear them. Or I won’t. Each blouse or sweater or pair of pants seems to give off a scream of anguish as I rip it out of its socket and throw it in the bag.  Why have you forsaken me?  We saw some good times together, didn’t we? Can’t we have them again?

I try to get them to shut up as I open my third or fourth bag. But the uncomfortable truth is, it’s me that can’t move on.

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