I gave clothes to my daughters.
To Rachel, I gave my sweet sixteen outfit… a colorful cotton & velvet long skirt and jacket. I loved it. It was gorgeous; then I moved to a lifestyle that had no use for such a striking suit, and then I gained weight. It fit her perfectly when I gave it to her. I was delighted to have her wear it. When I lost weight and she gained weight, she gave it back to me. Well she returned the jacket, that is, and kept the skirt. The brilliant pink silk lining was wrecked, the sleeve linings were missing completely, a tear down the center back, and inexplicable holes here and there. Later when visiting her, I saw the skirt; hem coming down, a tear at the bottom, a piece dangling from a thread, the zipper partially unsown, and the waistline worn and stretched.
I insisted on taking it home to fix. She texted me repeatedly to find out when I would get it back to her. It was summertime, and did not seem a necessary clothing item for that season. Clearly, she had felt I had simply planned to take it back permanently. But I fixed the skirt, and enlarged the waistline, and gave it back to her. She needs it more than I do.
What does that outfit mean to her, and what does it mean to me? Why do I care, and why can’t I let go? All good questions, but why do I need to justify myself?
I have given Sarah clothes too. She has a very odd item, that may have fit her once. It is my father’s morningcoat, from France. The label identifies Belkinkoff en Roux Montparnasse. Why did my father have or need such a jacket? What social situations required such a formal outfit. How thin my father was! I maneuvered into it last night; it was hard but it sort of fit me. I would have no use for this classic man’s apparel in my life either. I wonder why she accepted it. The lining needs a bit of fixing; a stitch now would save many more later. I lingered over the intricate lining pattern, which I’d not ever noticed before. Sometimes, we see things only when they need some mending. Isn’t that the case!
Sarah also has my very favorite dark blue coat, from my teens years and longer. It’s missing lots of buttons now. Did she wear it? I’m sure it does not fit her now; she has gained some bulk. I miss the coat, but perhaps I miss the girl in the coat.
That girl was me, I struggle to remember, I grab at odd opportunities to interview people who “knew me when” to glean some random insight into who I once was. I kept not diaries, preferring always to live moments rather than record them. And now I don’t remember enough to really describe her… me.