While I was searching for a title to today's post, Uncle Dave Macon's song "Wreck of the Tennessee Gravy Train" came on and I thought that it would be perfect. Of course, this post has nothing at all to do with what the song is actually about (1930's bank failure and political scandal) but it seemed like the way to go since honestly, I recently spent a day teetering on being a complete wreck and risking emotional bankruptcy. Thanks to clothes. Yes, clothes.
This week, I had a little tea party with aging and mortality. You see, Family Tree Estate Sales is having a vintage clothing sale this weekend and Lisa and I had been talking about taking some things out there to consign. While she admitted to coming to terms with a wee bit of vintage clothing hoarding, I'd only half-admitted to my own personal demons - until I cracked open the bins of clothes that I'd been storing away and found that those very demons were buzzing around me like horseflies at a rodeo.
I'm forty two. There - I said it. There is no getting around it. It happens to all of us sooner or later. When I was in my thirties, I had an entire closet full of vintage clothes - cute dresses, pin-up lingerie, swing skirts and back-breaking heels. I only wore vintage. I'd hit the thrift stores every Saturday and then come home with at least a dozen new-to-me and economical vintage items to further strain my tiny-and-bursting rental house closet. Trust me when I say that those were the days when you could find great vintage for cheap in thrift stores in Nashville. I had just gone through a divorce and had wiggled free from a long and stifling marriage. I was finally discovering who I was and I felt like there weren't enough hours in the day to feel free and to try new things. I had gone from owning a wardrobe of dour, my-life-has-no-joy clothes to bright and cheerful fashions of hopeful eras past. I couldn't get enough of them and snatched them up with vigor.
When I watch "Sex And The City" reruns now, I realize that I was a Carrie Bradshaw. I was hustling and bustling and happily dating and undergoing heart wrenching breakups - I was awash in joie de vivre. I'd write on my blog about everything that happened with no filter. I remember my Mom emailing me once after reading a blog post and saying, "And just WHO is this 'bad boy' whose arm you woke up under?!" Sorry Mom. I'd stay out late and go in to work tired and answer those phone lines, barely sitting up straight. I wasn't a boozer, mind you. I was just drunk on life. Those swishy skirts and talkative heels got me through the days better than any of today's energy drinks ever could. Stories...oh god, I had stories. And enough laughter and tears to last a lifetime.
Fast forward to forty two. When you age, your body changes. And it's not like I've done a lot to keep it from changing. That would be the "gravy" in the "Wreck of the Tennessee Gravy Train". Yum...gravy. So, I stored away the majority of these cute dresses and vintage items, saying that one day, I'd fit back into them again. And years kept passing. When I pulled out those bins this week and started to come to terms with each item, I felt like I was undergoing exposure therapy. Pulling out dresses and remembering first (and last) dates that I'd gone on in each of them....thinking back on music shows and weekend trips.....holding small-waisted skirts up to myself and looking in the mirror only to wonder if I'd once had some ribs removed to fit into them.
There was a real battle going on as to whether I should keep them and hit the treadmill - or let them go so that other Carrie Bradshaws could live days worth remembering in them. I reasoned that surely there were other girls like me - starting fresh but looking back to eras past for clues on how to showcase their future. In the end, I packed up three bags full and took them to the sale. I won't even get started talking about the two suitcases worth of vintage baby clothes that I took along as well - my acceptance that children aren't in my future is fodder for another day's post. Life takes twists and turns and though we think we know what's going to happen - trust me, we don't. Like I said, it's been a real week! I think that's why I'm always telling my younger friends to enjoy things more and to take things lighter - there is always time for deep reflection and planning - and during your twenties and thirties is not the time to spend most of our time that way. Some, of course - but not all.
I once heard a psychic say that when we bring vintage items home with us, we should realize that they carry the residual energy from those who have owned them before. This can be positive energy or negative energy. She said that if someone was generally happy, their items would go forth through the decades carrying this happy energy until perhaps an event happened to shift the energy from happy to unhappy. Going through those bins of clothing took me through waves of both.
I'm never going to be that person who wore those clothes again - but who's to say that I'm not (or won't soon be) an even better person? The days and nights that I spent in those clothes made me who I am today. This emotional week of purging has made me realize that the items that we allow into our lives - our clothing, home furnishings, and even people - are like the wardrobe, set design and supporting cast of our lives. They don't make us who we are but they can affect our moods and how we view ourselves. They can also absorb our residual energy. That said, holding on to the old sometimes takes up space where the new should be.
My life is good now. New loves and lost loves have given way to having an amazing husband. Who's to say if I would have ever been able to fit into those clothes again - but I've let them go. They won't be here for me to torture myself with. Yes, I was strong then but I'm also strong now. - and my life is hardly over. Do I stay up until three in the morning on weeknights these days, singing along with rockabilly bands and going all out? Hardly. These days, I'm more likely to be found during those wee morning hours either nursing a sick animal or a bout of insomnia. Party on.
When the estate sale company posted photos of some of the sale merchandise this morning, I could see some of my old items displayed there. Admittedly, I did have a bit of a panic and wanted to go snatch them up - but then I realized that just like with the women who had worn those clothes before I had, there comes a time when you have to let go and move on - and see where life takes you. There are seasons in fashion - but also in life too.
"The only thing that we can do is to do the best we can. Follow me good people. I'm bound for the promised land..." - Uncle Dave Macon, "Wreck of the Tennessee Gravy Train"
Until next time,
x's and o's,