There’s a big black garbage bag sitting in our closet. Actually, it’s not sitting – it’s squatting like a troll at the bottom of the wardrobe. The garbage bag troll has been there for a few weeks and every time I open and close the door, a piece of bag always gets stuck in the hinge. Flapping and waving outside the door every time I go by – reminding me I have to fill it with clothing. My clothing that I don’t want.
It’s not that I don’t want them – it’s that I haven’t worn them in a couple of years and they’re taking up valuable space in the closet I share with my husband. He’s good at getting rid of his old duds and even has room to spare side on his side of the wardrobe. My side is stuffed to the brim because I don’t want to part with anything.
Every t-shirt, pair of trousers and skirt is a story to me. Every lost button and rip and tear is a tale to be told. Every colour and pattern and print is a yarn of days and places gone by. How can I throw out all this material for memoirs?
Take the shirt I bought in Italy circa 10 years ago. I was a bride’s maid at a good friend’s wedding and the day before the big day, we went to the mercato (Italian for market.) There was a stall selling cool shirts for 2 Euros each and I bought three. One I gave to my sister, the other to a friend and the last one I kept for myself. It’s white with a silver dragon on it. Once the dragon stood out proudly on the front, its scales gleaming on the pure snow-coloured material.
When I see this shirt, I don’t just see a shirt. I see a bustling market in a small village. I feel the hot, hot, hot sun. I smell the leather from the shoe booths that line the other side of the street. I hear the lively conversations going on all around me. I can’t take part in them but ignorance is bliss and I can pretend they are only talking about happy things. Because I’m happy in that moment.
Today when I take a closer look at the shirt, I see the dragon is missing bits and pieces of her mythical body. She was once displayed proudly on a white background but it’s now more snow mixed with ash – grey. A sad canvas for a mighty beast.
We have memories to remember things. We don’t need a photograph or a memento or a shirt to be able to recollect specific moments. But it helps. It helps to keep us from forgetting the little things. It helps jog our memories. Alas, all my memories are cumulating into one big pile in the closet. Maybe it’s best I let some go and make room for new ones.