Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wear It Out

Getting dressed to work from home this morning, I walked directly to my “not worn enough to go in the laundry, but not clean enough for the closet” knit based attire pile. As I sorted and sifted, the thought struck me, “I want to wear real clothes today.”

Real clothes. The ones I only wore when I was going to be seen by someone other than myself. Real clothes for real people. But I was a real person, wasn’t I?

I pulled something from the closet and immediately felt that familiar little inner tug, “No, don’t wear that. Put it back. Save it.”

For what?

I had a grandmother, bless her heart, who died with her “good dishes” still in their original packing. She was saving them for a special occasion. We went to her house for birthdays, Christmases, Easters, Thanksgivings, anniversaries, funerals. And year after year they sat in their dusty cellophane wrapped boxes, tucked away under the desk in the dining room, right across from the table where we sat, eating on regular plates. They were stowed away where only someone kid height could see them and wonder what a special occasion must be if all of those other days thought to be so special, were not.

My husband and I once went to the estate sale of an elderly couple recently passed away after years in a grand old house on a hill. All of the fine rugs, furniture, china, silver, and other grandiosities were missing pieces or threadbare or tarnished or chipped. All of them. Every last piece. It made my husband sad, but it filled me with joy. How wonderful to live a life so well used all that remains are the scraps.

Three years ago Mom had a stroke. I rushed home from work to make arrangements for a flight home and found my husband ready and waiting with delivery pizza, “I knew neither one of us would want to cook.” There were paper plates because neither one of us would want to want to do dishes either. And two wineglasses because both of us would definitely want a drink.

I went to the wine rack where my recent travels to Trader Joe’s had produced a bargain-priced bounty.

“I already have one.” I turned to see the beautiful, bottle of the vintner’s best blend we paid more than too much for on our trip to Napa already uncorked and breathing on the counter. It took my breath away until he said, “Tonight we’re having the good wine.”

And we did.

It did not turn back time and make my mother’s stroke not happen. It did not take me away to some future place where everything was fine and fixed and final. It held me in that present moment, sharing something beautiful, when there was so much else that was ugly.

It made those last few hours before I left to sleep in hospital chairs and bathe and walk my mother while hoping she would remember who I was, a special occasion. And it was special. It still is.

Saving something doesn’t make it special. Using it does. It was time to stop saving things and start saving myself.

I held onto that hanger draped with “real clothes” and did not put it back. I laid it across the bed then pulled out jewelry and shoes to match. I even put on my best bra and good underwear, the ones I bought six months ago and were still yet to be worn. And it became a special occasion because for the first time in a long time, I stopped saving and started using. Real clothes for a real occasion with a real me.

Wear the clothes. Use the dishes. Drink the wine. Drink it all up my dear and wear it out. And leave nothing in life that wasn’t unpacked.

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