Tuesday, August 4, 2015
I am most myself in other people's clothes--my father's old yacht club cap, my daughter's outgrown sports bra, the gym shorts my sister gave me, and the t-shirts that came from Goodwill. In those I paddle the Chattahoochee, flop around on my yoga mat, and bike the roads east of Atlanta. I attribute my fondness for hand-me-downs to having a big sister I tried hard to be like, but the slovenliness is all me. I remember my mother reprimanding me about wearing the same clothes three days in a row, and forty years ago, it was the same outfit: shorts and a t-shirt. Especially in the summer, when I still try never to put on make up or wear real shoes. Mostly I wear sunscreen and flipflops that cost 98 cents at Walmart.
In the fall, however, which now starts the first of August, school begins and I have to do things like wash my hair and put on lipstick. I wear dresses and bracelets and carry a purse; I embrace entire color-coordinated outfits and wear high heels so my eleventh-graders won't dwarf me. They're still hand-me-downs, though. My friends and family all know I will accept and love their discards, and when I do shop, I head for the thrift store. The teacher part of me wants to take in those vagabond garments, the little sister part wants to look grown up, and the nerd in me wants to live by Thoreau's advice to beware of any enterprise requiring new clothes. Whatever, I may never enter a department store again.