Conjuring Mothballs

umbrella

I prefer ushering summer in, more than I do out.  Packing away shorts, and cotton shirts is a melancholy activity – unlike the joy of pulling all these garments out after a long winter. It seems I wore only half of my summer dresses this cooler-than-usual summer, and now I am folding them up for another year.  From the basement, I haul up the heavier load of winter clothing – darker tones and heavier weaves.

I learned this ritual of switching my wardrobe, from my mother. I remember the smell of mothballs permeating our apartment as she pulled out our stored clothing from the massive suitcases wedged into the top of the coat-closet. I laugh thinking about oh! my dread of my older sister’s hand-me-downs and how now, she and I relish each other’s rejects.

I survey each piece of clothing: to keep or not. This is a good time to purge the barely worn frock with the velvet bits. And certainly the linen pants I’ve been hanging onto with the illusion my waist line will ever be that size again. Times up on that one! I pile my has-beens on the bed, trying to embrace advice from the anti-hoarder experts — something like if you haven’t worn it X amount of time in the last season, it’s time to let it go.

Although I took a good load to Goodwill today, it should really have been bigger. I still cannot part with my faded cotton bathrobe – now ripping in places. It would be a good rag, or if I were crafty, maybe I could turn pieces into a quilt. But I’m not, so it gets packed away so next year, I can find it again and remember when my husband brought it to me, then lovely crisp and too-expensive, the day after I landed in the hospital on a sweltering June in Italy when I delivered Molly 2 months early. That was 19 years ago and I still can’t part with this now tattered robe.

There’s also a very pretty dress, although not really me, that I wore to N’s memorial service.  He’d bought it for me one day for no reason I knew of, about a year earlier. I’d barely worn it even then, because it’s a little too dressy and not the nicest fabric – but I can’t get rid of it. I like to think of him shopping for me, looking for something that I might like, that would suit me. He liked to shop and had expensive taste he indulged, even when he had no money and that was most of our marriage. But, I imagine him lovingly thinking about me — not trying to make up to me or distract me from maybe being coked up.

Anyway, I focused on him that day at the Unitarian Church – remembering him and his life and death on another day in June. It was the first day since his suicide a month earlier, that I was able to move past my fury and shock and begin to think of him with love and to mourn him.

The anti-hoarders would have me get rid of it perhaps, because all summer this dress has hung in my closet unworn. But instead, I’ve packed it away for another year.

The closet and drawers are emptier. I’ve yet to unpack any sweaters, the wooly socks, the corduroy pants. Not yet. It’s still warm enough and for now, I enjoy the space that lies between.

snow tree

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4 Responses to Conjuring Mothballs

  1. I love your final words: …….”I enjoy the space between.” Please don’t ever throw out the robe or dress!

  2. Beautiful and sad, but also warm and comforting. Thank you for your writing.

  3. Tricia says:

    I know you know this feeling…thanks for that.

  4. Lea Sylvestro says:

    Beautifully crafted as you take us along with this routine task, common to us all, and then your associations with the dress change the direction…Nina said it perfectly.

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