Saturday, January 15, 2011

War of the Wardrobe

This is on of those long, bleak January days when I have a tendency to do too little and think too much.  I believe that the purpose of January ( the month named for the god who looks both back into the past and forward into the future) is to exactly that, to figure out where we are in the New Year. I believe we need to draw from the past to forge the future,otherwise, how do we know where we're going if we don't know where we've been? And so, on this gray, cold day, I have been warming my imagination by sorting myself out, trying once again, to identify who I am...and I still don't know, to be honest. It's not due to a lack of trying, it's just that I find that I am composed of so many things, that I have a difficult time saying," Oh, I'm.......". One of the wondrous mysteries of life is that we are constantly and ever changing just like the stuff we are made up of: our opinions and beliefs are as fluid as the molecules that spin at varying speeds to create our reality.

On this day that the trees outside are shivering and clattering because of ice-covered branches, when the sky is a shade of lavender-gray just because it is Winter, when my fingers tingle from the cold, I am wondering who I am and how I present myself to the world. The Who-I-Am part is constantly in flux, but the how I present myself part needs work, especially in the physical realm. Is it understandable that say I am happy but not satisfied? I don't usually give that much thought to my wardrobe, what I am about  is clean, properly fitting and comfortable. I have been in stasis  in the attractive segment, because the Darkness of depression whispers in my ear, " Why bother?" a bit more than I would like to hear these days. Why bother indeed: I am dressing only for myself, and there is a part of me that says," Be thankful just to have clothing. No one is looking at you anyway. There are more important things than how you look."

If I were a little more morally centered, I might take this high road of austerity and be happy to dress like Gandhi in sackcloth and sandals . I am not. There is one part of me that battles with another that caring how one looks is egotistical, and then there is the voice that occasionally jumps in and reminds me, " Part of who you are is how you look, and it took you many years of self-examination to decide what you liked about yourself.Whatever happened to that?" Whatever, indeed...

My everyday style has degraded to All American Frump: a pair of pull on pants and an over-sized sweater.
It's warm, economical (usually from the thrift store) and totally shapeless, in that it covers everything up-all of me. And there is a lot of me to cover up nowadays, not that I have ever been tiny: I am, according to whoever does the size portioning at Jones of New York a Misses Petite, the politically correct way of saying that I am
round and height challenged, or short and fat. It wasn't always like this, I used to like dressing up and looking smart, and for a while I worked in the Women's Department at Macy's, where customers would come in and remark," I wish I could look like you." It was great for my self-esteem, believe me. The secret to my wardrobe success was basic wardrobe components correctly proportioned and accessorized-jewelry, scarves, belts, shoes with heels (which I can no longer wear.) I knew what colors were popular and what colors I looked good in and could pull it together.

Those were the days, my friends....

Today I am fortunate if I can pull myself out of bed. Together? Pull what together? Nothing matches anymore.The clothing I bought just for me, in styles that were complimentary, are a memory-gone. I jettisoned a lot of them when I made the move a few years ago because I figured clothing was something expendable. Frankly all of the clothing I liked, the stuff that defined me, had been stored while I was taking my little side trip into Homelessness. I was promised that the would be there when I was ready to resume my life....

Lesson One: Trust only yourself. The day I went to retrieve my belongings- that I was promised were safely stored- I found not only were many boxes missing (Oh, you were REALLY coming back for those?) but that the boxes that remained had been opened and picked through...and my carefully created wardrobe was gone ("Oh, I guess your stuff got mixed in with the stuff for the Good Will.") My things were gone, and with it, so I felt, was I.

I had spent a year trying to get myself back together after  selling  my house, moving across the state,the trauma of  being assaulted and tail-spinning into a horrific depression, and loosing the apartment I was so proud of because I had sunk a considerable amount of money into making it mine.  The last blow I could take was loosing my outer identity, and now it was all a memory. I had spent so long figuring out my personal style and I looked good, I felt, for the first time in my life. I had pretty clothing that made me feel pretty,damn it.
I had even dared to walk into Hot Topic and buy a beautiful long black goth gown that I intended to wear for rituals...and it was now nowhere to be found, along with the glamorous beaded and chiffon maroon evening gown and the creamy two piece formal suit with the beaded jacket I'd worn at the Grammy's five years earlier. Double damn...they even took my clerical shirts, and who would possibly want them?

I am sitting here at the end of a long, bleak January day mourning the loss of my hard-earned wardrobe-of all the things I loved that were such a part of me-and I am feeling very ugly and stupid for trusting other people who made promises they didn't keep...and I don't know why, because it solves nothing.

Janus, the god of the past and future looks at Time both ways, and here and now, so will I. I have looked back long enough, felt guilty and dumb and ugly long enough. Tomorrow I am going to throw away the clothing I absolutely loathe- the All American Frump collection. I will keep a couple of pairs of pants and a few shirts to do yard work in and crafts, the rest is GOING TO THE TRASH. I may be naked when I finish, but I am going to start looking like me again ( and I will look even more like me when my damn hair grows out that I cut way too short after the Darkness whispered in my ear about how hideous it looked. Score one for the Darkness, it looks even worse now, just what he wanted.)

Tomorrow-or maybe even tonight-there is going to be a search and destroy mission taking place in my dressers and storage boxes, and there is going to be a big bag of rags in the garbage...and with any luck at all, I am going to be free of the funk that I've felt about my looks, bit by bit....because damn it, I DO CARE WHAT I LOOK LIKE EVEN IF NO ONE ELSE DOES, and if that makes me sound superficial and egotistical, so be it. It's the War on the Wardrobe, baby...and I'm going to take me back!

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