We don’t speak every day. We can’t even call ourselves best friends, but what we are is kindred spirits, and that links us creatively and in life. It’s always a happy gift when our inner artists are met with serendipity. With so many changes happening, it seemed like a natural fit to write about letting go and starting over. What seems almost divine is that we both saw this story through the metaphorical lens of an article of clothing.
Some people use lipstick as a symbol of power and femininity. I don’t. I have a pair of sandals that make me feel powerful and badass, in a good way.
They are the ones that I bring out only for special occasions…and by “special occasions” I mean those nights when I am feeling especially scandalous and want to use my wardrobe to express my own recognition of my inner goddess. The sandals that whisper “get on your knees.”
Those sandals are the one thing in my closet that transform me from social media geek-girl to effervescent West Side vixen, oozing confidence in posture and with poise. When I wear them, I never struggle to find the right words, they just flow from my lips in a soft, smoky voice. The earth moves to my mental playlist, and my body along with it. Skin glowing from perfectly pedicured open toe to rosy sun-kissed nose. My hair falls perfectly, just dusting across my face in that slightly seductive way. Those sandals are my magic feather. They make me soar.
When I recognized the version of me I become when I slide the skinny burnt leather strap across my ankle, the inevitable happens. I want more. The feeling is intoxicating.
The weekends come and the need creeps in. Crippled by the scorch of a 50+ hour work week, I crave the release of forgetting who I am for a while…even if I know it can’t last. Even if I knew that with every amazing high comes an incredible crash. It’s worth it.
“Fuck that kind of pessimism! Tonight I will dance. I will glow. I will turn heads.”
And so I do. For as long as I can escape into this world of beautiful things, where, in my mind, I’m the center piece and my amazing beautiful sandals make me believe it is so…
…Until last week, when the buckle snapped and the strap broke off.
I blamed myself for abusing something I should have maybe handled with care. I’d like to say that I didn’t throw a brief tantrum, so I’m going to say that…because this is my blog, and I’ll say what I want to.
I was disappointed. The shoes were a lie. For what I invested, I was only able to stretch my perfect red leather wedges for six amazing weekends. They should have lasted longer.
But nothing lasts forever.
I thought about having them repaired, but realized that I would only fear damaging them further if I were to ever depend on them again.
Sometimes you just have to let go.
After the fit that I didn’t throw, I collected myself and kicked off my now destroyed cork-heeled fantasy-makers. Remembering who I was, just a few weeks before—remembering that a pair of poorly constructed shoes does not a vixen make—I let go of my insecurities and the attachment to the illusion that sexy was the product of an accessory. I slathered my legs and ankles and toes with a shimmery tinted moisturizer, slipped into a little black dress, and hauled ass to the nearest beach bar in a pair of silver Havaianas.
Unlike my useless sandals, the night did not disappoint…my fresh start started with me, flying featherless and more badass than ever.
Blood, Sweaters and Tears
I’m sitting in my room, looking at my open closet and at my empty suitcases, wondering what geometry equation can mathematically fit all of my things on a confined axis within my two free checked bags on my Southwest flight to New York.
After swiveling back and forth from suitcase to closet, I lock in on my favorite striped shirt—one that I’ve had since high school, from the Gap clearance section, that wore when I karaoked to David Bowie last Christmas, that boyfriends have liked, that’s been shoved in my purse as a backup dozens of times in case it got chilly. And I don’t know if I should take it with me, or let someone buy it at the swap meet for fifty cents. Or hell, throw it away.
This should be an easy decision. I’m wasting time going back and forth between feelings and function, taking it out, then hanging it back up, feeling like I owe it an apology for even thinking about trashing it.
I spend days sifting through other things, dropping other shirts and shoes and books into a pile that grows as large as it does meaningless. Most of these things are easy to toss, like uncomplimentary blouses that I assumed my boobs would grow into, or pants that my butt diameter has long surpassed. Others have more of a Michael-Jordan-getting-cut-from-his-high-school-basketball-team thought. Who knows if that sarong from my Hawaiian vacation could make a bold comeback in NYC? Anything’s a possibility.
But the striped shirt hung in my closet, like the soft presence of a spirit, watching me slowly shed a thick layer of myself.
The last time I was truly sad was because of a sweater.
In my rebellious youth I frequented a thrift store in Citrus Heights, California behind the dingy Sunrise Mall where I wasn’t allowed to walk around by myself. The store was falling apart, barely propped in the middle of an empty parking lot where my dad taught me to drive.
This store—affectionately named after an arch angel or something—was an untapped goldmine of the Sacramento suburbs. Ratchety aisles with fringe leather jackets for wearing unironically, children’s novelty shorts, ugly shoes. It was my minimum-wage-earning dream come true.
The found sweater was a soft dark green V-neck. It became my fallback, my go-to, my favorite piece of clothing I’d ever owned, and ever will. It’s been around the world, hugged every friend, and seen Dave Mathews Band one too many times.
Last November it disappeared. At first I denied it even being missing, thinking it would turn up in an unlikely crevice or closet. But after piecing together the events that took place, I became angry, because it didn’t make sense why it was gone. Then came the what-ifs, and the whys, soon followed by a brief period of sadness.
I was going through the 5 Stages Of Grief over a sweater.
But the funny thing about sweaters is that they’re sweaters, and they don’t love you back.
And the funny thing about this sweater is it’s probably in a thrift store right now, or maybe someone is wearing it as a last resort because it’s laundry day, or maybe a homeless person is peeing on it.
The countdown until the move shortens. I make a decision.
The striped shirt smelled. The white armpits were dirtied and starched from layers of deodorant and concerts and body odor. Threads visibly unraveled. The shirt took its last breath a long time ago, and I held onto the corpse. Like how serial killers do that sometimes.
After a long, contemplative goodbye, it was gone.
The difference between the green sweater and the striped shirt was a matter of choice. The loss of a green sweater felt sudden death of a friend, while I dug a grave for the striped shirt over the years. They were different kinds of sadness, but posed the same questions: Where does sentimentality meet rationality? How much should we hold on to nostalgia?
While hoarders may differ in opinion, the self must precede materials. Value is relative and ever-changing. Things run their course of use, just as we run our course over time and experiences.
When we strip ourselves from what we have, we are left with our own essence, and the relationships we have and we’ve made. We are who we are and that’s how we communicate. And I’d rather have better stories than better stuff.
Starting over is a compromise. And that’s OK, because it’s inevitable if you want to grow. It’s OK to let things go, and it’s OK to feel something when they’re gone. In a few years I’ll probably be doing this again, with items I don’t even own yet, and people I have yet to meet. We’d all be sociopaths if we didn’t attach emotions to things.
So what I’m trying to say is I’m not a sociopath.
I’m just moving on.