and purge

I had purged my closet in stages, pulling things off the hangers and tossing them in bags as they started to get baggy on me. It was never really a concerted effort, the cleaning out of my old wardrobe, and that’s why, I think, I didn’t realize how much stuff I used to have until I was hauling it out bag by bag by bag by bag by another-dozen-bags for Melinda, who was up here in my neck of the woods. "I’ll be up there visiting!" she had said. "Great!" I had said. "I have some clothes for you!" By some clothes, I actually meant all the clothes in the whole world, all of which I did not want to let go. (At left, a picture from May:
this sweater’s going next. And so, too, are the boobs. Sigh.)

I thought I’d have a couple of pairs of pants for her, maybe some sweaters and she’d pull them on, go okay! These’ll work! And then we’d spend the rest of the afternoon pleasantly chatting over protein drinks. It didn’t look like that much stuff when it was all crammed into the back of the closet; it just looked like I was an extremely messy person with an extremely messy and unorganized closet. This is a true fact. But what was extremely messy was a lifetime’s worth of now-unwearable clothes I had been hauling around with me for more or less my entire life.

It was something like 12 bags of clothing—some of them paper
grocery bags, some of them big cloth grocery bags, and a couple giant
tote bags, one of which used to hold a king-sized comforter. A lot of
clothes. I kept piling them up next to the futon and Melinda said
“Good God, woman!” and I said “There’s more!” and I kept hauling them
out. Every item of clothing I had ever worn, from the tragic and
oversize T-shirts from my fat-and-ugly days to the slinky dresses of
my fat-and-fabulous days. My target="newwin"
clothing benefactor was an incredibly stylish lady with an impeccable
sense of style (did you note that pink dress picture of a few days
back? All her) to whom I am still grateful; Melinda got an all-bets-are-off rummage sale and a lot
of nostalgia, free.

Oh, the nostalgia. Because I really never threw anything away. I might
someday fit back into it; Someday, I could be a size one million, and
one day I would get skinny-compared-to-now, and it was best to have
every contingency covered and every potential possibility headed off at
the pass. An occasion might very well have arisen again where I was 220
pounds and in dire need of a Care Bears T-shirt. One never knew! Even
when one weighed approximately 100 pounds in the other direction and
was in a place where the very idea of a cartoon character on one’s
chest filled one with dread and fear, as it would, possibly, bring
attention to one’s existence.

There was also the ankle-length denim skirt I distinctly remember
owning in my freshman year of college; the black V-neck sweater with
the hole chewed into it by my mother’s dog who died approximately 15
years ago; the blue button-down shirt with the two missing buttons that I wore to the funeral of the uncle of an ex-boyfriend, about
three relationships back. And things I didn’t remember (what was I
thinking?) and things from my peacock stage, where I dressed the body I
had and not the body I wanted and said fuck this, I am going to feel
good about who I am and not wish I were someone else.
I loved those
jeans, which made my ass look round and my legs look long and I wore
them with my red beaded heels, and I remember feeling sexy, and being
sexy, and I wish that could have lasted. That did not last long enough.

Melinda, who has a more classical and less let’s-say-whimsical sense of style
than I do, took the button-downs and the knit tops and the slacks and
capris and left behind a lot of the clothes I love, and a part of me
was broken hearted. They were rejected, my fancy orange top with the tie neck, and the shirt that says "Hell on Heels" and the one with the birds and the one that’s kind of drapey. I wanted to snatch those things up and save them from doom. I wanted to squirrel them away and maybe
someday I would …do something with them! Make pillows! Wear them as
dresses! Pull them out every day and weep softly into them! I packed
them up fast and lined them up by the futon and asked her friend Spike
to please take them to Goodwill in his giant truck and please keep the
donation, because my closet needs to be cleared out, my nostalgia isn’t
doing anything but making me look weird, and there are always new
fancy-pants items, possibly with feathers on, to purchase. 

I feel like I’m supposed to close sagely with a lesson about holding on
to your past, and looking forward to your future except don’t forget
your history as you keep your eyes on the grindstone and your nose in
the stars and your feet on the wheel of progress as times goes by.
Mostly, though, I just think that it’s a good idea to keep your closet
clean and donate to Goodwill.

5 Replies to “and purge”

  1. I think you’re lucky. Lucky that you have clothes from the past that you love, that hold good memories. Lucky that you had a peacock stage.

    My fat years were my years of shame, the clothes I wore were all ugly and big and shapeless, meant to do nothing more than hide my shame, to cloak me from the world.

    You obviously had a healthier relationship with yourself and I think that says a lot about you.

  2. I used to have a whole drawer full of ‘I can make pillows and rag rugs!’ old stretchy-ass t-shirts. Hanging onto all of your big clothes is a super-hard habit to break, but when I moved last time I sucked it up and tossed most everything that didn’t fit anymore but my ‘sexy outfit’ from my highest weight.

    I also couldn’t believe how exhausting and expensive it was to replace my enitre wardrode gradually over the last few years. You’d think that a whole closet full of new skinny clothes would be the greatest thing ever but it caused a lot more anxiety than I thought it would. It used to be easy to clothes shop because it was Lane Bryant or nakedness, but now that most of the mall is fair game it’s a little overwhelming.

  3. I have stashes of skinny clothes and fat clothes. I’ve weeded them out over the years, but I can’t get rid of them altogether. Because I am superstitious and kind of stupid. If I ditch the skinny clothes, that’s like giving up. Like saying, screw it, I admit that I will never be that thin ever again (and, odds are, I won’t, since the really skinny clothes are from back when I thought an eating disorder mean that you allowed different foods to touch on your plate, and that stress, bourbon and cigarettes are a perfectly good diet). I suspect I also like to punish myself for being bigger — instead of a hair shirt, I have jeans that won’t button and pleated skirts that get all pulled out and bunchy.

    Tossing my fat pants, now, that would be tempting fate. Asking for it. Just daring the fat gods to pack the pounds on me (as though I have no agency, no control, no say in the matter). Today, it’s a trip to Goodwill, and tomorrow or maybe the next day, the waistband on my jeans will start to cut into my stomach.

    Hmm. I guess I am not as recovered as I would like.

  4. For the record, I did take the Care Bear t-shirt, and the pirate t-shirts, and the awesome Snorks t-shirt. AND the strapless dress that I was scared of. And also the pretty sparkly brown satin shirt and awesome flowered skirt and and and…but I had to say goodbye to some of it. I only had two suitcases!

    And tonight I said goodbye to that awesome polka dotted shirt from Chicago and my slithery satiny kimonoy shirt and jeans I just bought in March, and oh, my gorgeous black wool coat. All taken away to the consignment shop. See, you are a good influence on me!

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