Friday, July 2, 2010

Mourning Glory

For years, I worked in retail. Every two weeks, I would enjoy the thrills and late nights of setting up the visual displays and store windows with new merchandise. I knew the body details of each mannequin (whom ironically have plenty of their own “flaws”). And I couldn’t help but snicker at competitors’ windows filled with poorly styled, wrinkled, or minimally layered outfits. The following mornings would always be a flurry of markdowns and my employee discount was greatly appreciated. So, you can imagine when I left retail I had more clothes and shoes than I had occasions to wear them.

With my first “desk” job, I quickly lost some of the vanity that came along with trying to maintain my fashion sense and size zero figure. I was enthusiastically heading towards a new sense of practicality and professionalism. Some outfit choices started to fade entirely and I no longer feared the occasional chocolate malted milkshake (with a dill pickle on the side, of course). Still I tried to hold on to some of my hipster elements. I never left the house with less than three layers, my trousers were still crimson red, and my shoes were always at least four inches tall.

So, even though it would have been perfectly acceptable to wear sandals on a particularly sunny September morning – I was excited to wear a new pair of olive leather Kenneth Cole boots instead. I didn’t know planes would be crashing into towers or that I would need to walk nearly twelve miles back to Harlem. And I didn’t know my feet and ankles were covered in blood until my cousin told me.

Some days just rattle you to the core.

In the weeks that followed, I needed to work from home. I had just moved into my apartment so there were boxes everywhere. I found my desk and chair and left the television unplugged. I worked endlessly because there was no more commute. No mid-day urge to take a walk to the Square Dinner. And there was no rush to end the workday just to get back home. Horribly and lonely, I was already there.

The novelty of working in your pajamas fades quickly and I considered it an accomplishment to maintain a somewhat decent sense of basic personal hygiene. It was hard to look at some of the items in my closet. There were my stained boots and the many hangers of the frivolous. It is questionable whether it was a matter of respectful utility or simple laziness but I started to commit to a daily uniform of flip-flops, jeans, t-shirt, and cardigan sweater (note: only two layers).

And boy, did I commit. Shoes and socks became an artifice that I had absolutely no interest in. In fact, my current employer maintains a policy of “business appropriate attire” which means I can never ever wear my flip-flops to meetings (or even in my own office). In protest, I have been known to let my Halloween socks peak out from my shoes wildly and inappropriately during the off-season. The minute Friday becomes the weekend – I reach for my flip-flops and have them handy until Monday rears her ugly head.

Today, nearly ten years later, I finally said goodbye to those J-Crew skinny wedge flip-flops. Their plastic began to loosen to the point they would disassemble. Still, it felt odd to throw out a relic from my pre-marriage and pre-motherhood days. I begrudgingly started to cut the tag off my not-quite-identical replacement pair and realized I didn’t really want to wear them. While my habit may (or may not) have sprung from a place of depth - it would require only shallowness at this point to maintain it. Perhaps the time has finally come to reopen the closets and indulge in some frivolity…

1 comment:

  1. oh I give away clothes and nicely replace every empty space with new ones....I purged my own closet after losing weight and now find myself pleasantly surprised at "finding" shirts/pants/skirts etc...which could not be seen due to crowding....George Carlin's theory on stuff is dead on