This Is Us
Stuff is stuff.
Every time I walk through a thrift store I am reminded of how quickly things go from must-haves to unwanted. This is especially true of clothes. You’ll find racks of discarded shoes, handbags worn but not worn out, and dresses guilty only of the crime of outlasting their peak of stylishness.
Most clothes are worn for a bit before being tossed like used tissues.
And they generate as much sentimental value.
But then there are the things we hold onto; the skirt that no longer fits but still hangs in the back of the closet; the jackets with shoulder pads wider than those on NFL receivers; the torturous, toe-pinching, heels you wisely gave up wearing long ago but just can’t seem to bring yourself to permanently ditch.
Occasionally, I’ll hold onto an item beyond reason simply because I remember how much I paid for it. Maybe I don’t want to admit I made a terrible mistake. Or maybe I optimistically hope the purchase will make sense sometime in the future.
But unlike banked money, these saved clothes rarely enjoy an increase in interest rates.
After being feeling sufficiently haunted by these ghosts of fashion pasts, I see the light. I change my ways. And my clothes. And I set them free, releasing them into the wild in hope they will find their way to a good home with someone else.
But there are a few items I will treasure forever.
Consider the vest pictured above.
Most people would view it as junk. And I’d be hard pressed to argue otherwise. It’s boxy. The tailoring is rough. The black cotton fabric is worn and frayed. The burgundy and green velvet appliqué decorating the front and back and the gold tone embroidery have come undone in places.
A boy gave me that vest.
I don’t remember his name. I can’t even recall if he was English or Australian, only that he wasn’t American. It’s a blur. The year was 1974. I’d traveled overland from Italy through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan to India. That’s where I met the boy. I was eighteen years old. He wasn’t much older. There were no sparks between us. We were just two kids on separate adventures in a…