One thing about getting older, you find out how foolish you were in your youth. We don’t have room here for all my transgressions, but I must share one with you.
Today, while I was scouting my desk drawer for a bit of information — and scouting is the exact word, as these drawers hold, in no particular order, or disorder, twenty-eight years worth of stuff that I am unable to part with — I came across a photo. In the photo I am sitting on a friend’s deck on a summer night, and to my surprise I was wearing the exact outfit that I wore to work today. My first thought was that it looked pretty good. My second thought was to turn the photo over and check the date.
July 2004. Wow! I had to run into John’s office and show him what a thoughtful and thrifty wife he has to make her wardrobe last seven years. He congratulated me and allowed as how he was very proud of me.
Back in my office, I remembered how, that very morning, as I perused my closet for something to wear on a hot, hot, hot summer day, I looked at the outfit and actually thought of it as one of my “new” ones. That put me in mind of how I used to laugh at my in-laws when they were shocked that the “new” television or refrigerator quit working, when I knew that the appliance was at least fifteen or twenty years old or more!
I’d say, “Harold, that TV isn’t new. You had that before you built on the family room!”
He’d say, “You’re wrong!” End of story. But my mother-in-law, whose inner life was less black and white than her husband’s, would get her “thinking” look on her face, and say, “Oh, dear, do you really think so?”
But over the years, more and more I find my life a replay of theirs. When the freezer quit, we tried to remember when we got it. George came to fix it, and looked at the label brand on the door. He’d never heard of it. I had no memory of buying it, and there wasn’t a manual in my manual file (that’s one place I do organize my life). But John insisted we had “just bought it!” Wrong.
I can see now that unless I can peg a purchase to a particular moment in time, the things that come and go in my life — stoves, refrigerators, washing machines and such — seem to just appear, and until they die, they are the “new” ones.
Same with my clothes. I still have the red plaid kilt that I was wearing when I announced to John’s family at Christmas 1971 that I was pregnant with our first child and due in June 1972. I haven’t been able to wear four-inch heels since about 1990, but I couldn’t bear to part with them, so have them hidden in boxes under the bed in the guest room. I told my girlfriends that sometime we should have a “sit-down only” party so we can all wear our stiletto heels from years ago. I wore one of my favorite dresses to a Birthday Ball a few years ago and all the younger women wanted to know if it was “vintage.” I suppose it would be! A while back I finally gave my 1980s “Dallas” big-shoulder-padded wardrobe to the Winona County Historical Society. Jodi Brom, the curator of collections, was thrilled. I did save one dress back, though. You never know when you’ll need an 80s creation, I figure.
Anyway, this column is an apology for laughing at anyone a generation ahead of me for forgetting how old all their possessions are. Fridges come and fridges go. At least I don’t call it the “ice box.”