Monday, October 24, 2016

My life as I wore it

Over the past year I have lost a little weight, so as the scales go down so goes the inventory in my closet.  Last week I finally found time to donate my stockpile of clothing.  Honestly, I felt a little ashamed at the amount of clothing I own.  Even after culling for the last 10 months my closet is still full and haven't even cleaned out my winter clothes I packed away in the spring.  How did that happen? I wasn't always this way. Growing up I didn't have many clothes.  My parents had six other children they also had to feed and clothe, so fashion for the youngest child wasn't a priority.

In my final push to prepare for donation day I decided I had better lift the lid on my cedar chest, one of the first grown-up Christmas gifts my mother gave me.  I don't know when I last actually opened the chest, but I can say for certain it hasn't been opened in the 10 years it has sat in my closet where I put it the day I moved into my current home.  In the spirit of adventure, I popped the heavy lid to take a look inside, allowing the earthy scent of cedar to waft over me. Pilfering through the contents was like working an archeological dig, each layer like sediment of an era of my life.  At the top of the pile were more recent acquisitions like a quilt I had forgotten I owned and my children's baptismal outfits.  The next layer were things I wore in the 1990s right before I put on the weight I have carried for 20 years, then further down still were things from days even longer passed.  I decided to take everything out and weed through the wreckage, so to speak, all the way to the very bottom.  Here a few of the treasures I found long forgotten and locked away enveloped in darkness and fragrant wood.

Because of my shortage of clothes the things I wore were worn often.  Then again, I tend to only wear things that are comfortable, so even if I did get something new I probably wouldn't have worn it much if it was scratchy or felt strange on my skin.  Polyester was not my friend.  Those who have known me the longest will recognize different versions of me here.

These are my oldest pieces; remnants of the childhood I often recollect.  The first is the dress I wore for my First Holy Communion.  I remember getting dressed on that important, sacramental day.  Some girls wore veils, but I wore a halo of flowers around my head.  I was supposed to have a special prayer book to carry, but the order never came in.  I guess it went by the way of the abacus I was supposed to get in first grade that was lost in the mail as well.

Yes, I was a National Enquirer TV Blooper Spotter and I have the shirt to prove it!  I don't remember the TV show I reported, and I certainly don't know why I was reading the National Enquirer at that age.  Apparently lots of children reported bloopers because that shirt is child sized.

The bottom two shirts were results of school art projects.  The flying initials were screen-printed in the eighth grade, and the other was the result of having too much fun with paint on another project.  If my old Sacred Heart Elementary School buddies look closely they will surely find their fingerprints.  I wore those two shirts for years.  Don't think I didn't hold them up to me to see if I could get them on, because if they still fit I would be wearing one right now.

The flashbacks continued as I pulled out some things from my high school years; Army-issue fatigues, a souvenir shirt from a trip I took to Mexico, some shirts I bought in Mexico, and a preppy monogrammed sweater given to me by my oldest sister.  Then there is the sweatshirt.   My OFTP had one with her name, too.  Why did we? I have no idea. I tried to put it on, too, but I'm not quite there yet.  Maybe it will fit by the end of winter; it's given me a new goal.

Here are my college years in a nutshell.  A credo, purple cotton parachute pants, cabbage-rose printed skirt, and British Studies.  The only thing missing is a multi-color striped button front shirt. The pants and skirt were my very favorite because they buttoned down the back.  No, I did not wear them backwards, they buttoned down the b-a-c-k.  Sadly, my purple pants have a little dry rot in the elastic, but I returned them to the safety of the cedar anyway.

Then one day I went from a First Communion dress to wearing my mother's vintage red velvet fitted dress to a Christmas party. Then, in a blink of an eye I was a maid of honor. Actually I was a maid of honor twice but I loaned out the pretty green one and didn't get it back.

Sometimes it is good to take out things that are fond reminders of certain events in your life.  Enjoy the memories but do not dwell there.  It is necessary to find the balance and learn to let go.  There is happiness right now that needs to be captured so don't waste time trying to squeeze happiness out of a moment from a lifetime ago.  Don't miss the here and now or you'll have nothing to make fond memories for later.

My cedar chest is only half as full as it was, I am proud to say.  I let go of many things, but some things are worth keeping and revisiting, like the things here.

There is one more thing I found, and I will just leave it here like an Easter egg that's been left in the weeds and found the following Easter.  That's all I have to say about them; they speak loud enough for themselves.


  1. It's fun sharing your memories, Elizabeth!

  2. Love it. My Lane cedar chest (given to me by Mother and Daddy when I graduated from high school in 1960) was the only piece of furniture we found in the Hurricane Katrina debris. It still held the baby clothes and my wedding veil and First Communion dress Mother made. Martin had it refinished last year; I love it and the things it still contains!