"He was still too young to know that the heart's memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past."
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
I went through my closet yesterday, stem to stern.
It's amazing, the story a small collection of clothes can tell - and I, yesterday, became its editor. The story of my body; the story of my aspirations. The story of my travels, and my friendships, and my lovers, and my family. Of what I like and what I do not like about my long, pale body - its bony escarpments and cushiony protrusions and shaded hollows. My insecurities, my confidences, my practicalities.
The dress I wore to that wedding at Beaulieu when I was just barely sixteen - one of the only long dresses I own, and I wore it barefoot that day to walk through the English rose garden on the vineyard grounds. The fireworks of exploding Champagne flutes when the dozens that had been carelessly set on the dance-floor heatlamps simultaneously exploded. I remember the dress catching my calves as I was tossed around, whizzingly, to that swing band. I knotted that skirt up in my hand to ride home perched on the window-ledge of the old beige Mercedes, and screamed with joy at the wind in my hair and on my skin and at someone holding my ankles to be sure I didn't fall out onto the road. And I cast it on the floor to the strains of that old Bakenaked Ladies album (Gordon, I'm sure it was. Hello, city.) playing softly, as I wiggled into a swimsuit and we all piled drunkenly into the hot tub on the back deck, toasting the advance of early-morning fog. I hadn't fit that dress for years, but when I slid it on yesterday it was 1996 again.
And then, the enormous pleasure of the purge. Conservative suit after conservative suit, collected from years of pursuing a job in corporate animation and TV. Suits collected with the wallet I fattened at CBS with my own lifesblood. Suits that represented who I thought I wanted to be but really, really didn't - black and camel armour for a pointless war. As I put each one on, I became unrecognizable to myself, draped in georgette hanging benignly over my curves and buttoned up to my neck. Get out, old self. Get outta here.
Out go the holdovers: This never fit well, but he gave it to me. This isn't my colour, but she lent it to me and I never gave it back but now she's gone. This really doesn't suit me, but it makes me remember this one moment in time that I like to think about. The pile grew in the middle of my bed, and I was struck by a glance I caught of it - this represents so many of my past iterations. My not-quite-right doppelgangers, locked in bondage to people and pursuits that were doomed to sputter out. And another pile, slightly to the left, of clothes that are ready to be nipped and tucked and tailored to suit the creature I have become.
This morning, much of my closet is possessed by clicking, empty hangers - like a mobile made of ribs.
I am at home, here, now.