Monday, April 25, 2016

The pleasure of someone else's clothes

I've always loved borrowed clothes. When I put on my sister's or my children's clothes, I feel  part of them blanketing me, encircling me with their personality. My favorite hiking fleece used to belong to a center back on Grayson High School's soccer team. He was my daughter Maggie's first real boyfriend. He was kind of a jerk, but he was handsome, a star athlete, and the new kid at school, so my daughter saw him as a challenge and dated him her senior year. Whenever  I wear Matt's Columbia fleece, I think of all the soccer matches I watched with my daughter, how she and he laughed together and fell in love for a minute, and how after they broke up, Matt still returned the coffee cup I left in his car because he knew it was my favorite. He wasn't unredeemable.

When my big sister went off to college in 1976, I used to sneak her peasant blouses out of her suitcase after she packed. It was a terrible thing to do; we had some of our worst fights about it, but we probably both understand now why I did it. Whenever I wore Kathy's clothes, I felt cool, like I was Linda Ronstadt or some groovy college girl. My thieving gesture was one of love, although I've learned better ways to express it.

I wore my grandfather's brown cardigan for a long time, too, after he died. It was the eighties and you could get away with wearing oversized sweaters and long skirts. The little alligator on the left front made me remember the times he took me with him golfing and let me drive the cart. My grandfather used to tell me stories no one else in the family would--it was the only way I knew my grandfather's brother-in-law shot himself, or that all five of his brothers were alcoholics. When I was very young, my grandfather bought me my first tennis racket and told me bedtime stories from The Odyssey. It hit me hard when he died. When he died, I kept his sweater and made it part of my wardrobe for a really long time. Papaw used to remind me of Ed MacMurray on My Three Sons. He was a good man with a good sweater, and  wearing it, I felt like a better person. .

Lily is the daughter who borrows my clothes, as long as they are gray or brown. She comes home without having packed properly, but she is a beautiful girl, I mean like model beautiful, so she can get away with drab shapeless clothing and still turn heads. Emily, though, has the most fun with borrowing, and we have a game we call "Closet." It's simple. She goes through my closet whenever she is here, and I give her whatever she picks out. I think I have only denied her one item ever, and only because it was brand new and I had not worn it yet.

There's such a symbolic pleasure in wearing other people's clothes. The wearing binds you to the original owner. It creates a circle. We used to have a routine on the street where my twins were born in Mississippi. My oldest daughter is Emily. Her clothes went to Ashley down the street, three years younger. Ashley's went to her little sister, Jessica, and Jessica's came to my twins, Maggie and Lily. Leftovers went to Goodwill, if they weren't worn out by then. I think If everyone shared clothes, maybe the world would be more united. Imagine all the people sharing all the world. Starting with maybe an old brown shapeless cardigan

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