Outfits 25 (Part 2)

Another week, another slew of outfits. Want to hear something funny? I talked to my dad on the phone this week (Hi, Dad!) and he says to me, while I’m chopping carrots, something to the effect of:

You know, Erin. If you were living a long time ago, you’d have one outfit that you’d wear for one week and then wash it, and then you’d wear it again for another week and then wash it again. One outfit.

And I laughed, because of course he’s right. Of course I knew this. Of course we are all one big smattering of contradictions and comparisons and you-do-this and I-do-that and eventually we grow and shrink and sometimes, for a moment, we meet in the middle for a coin toss and we say, yes, we are the same.

But really, I just want to clean out my guest bedroom closet.

That’s what this is about.

Has that always been what this is about?

My guest bedroom closet contains artifacts in every color, cut and fabric imaginable. There are pink chiffon skirts and peter pan collared blouses and gray suede pumps and you would not believe the sequin shorts I have held on to for the past decade. You simply would not.

I call them artifacts because they are no longer in use, no longer represent the person I am or the person I am becoming or the person I would like to be when I am say, 60ish, lovingly teasing my daughter over the phone about a project of privilege.

They are dusty; they are shelved. They speak volumes of a history, or a her-story, really, one to be celebrated, yes, but one that is finished. One that I’ve written, and read, and made peace with.

Has that always been what this is about?

And now, the artifacts are slowly being offered elsewhere, uprooted from the depths of the guest bedroom closet.

25 remain, for now. These 25. And here’s how I’m wearing them (part 1 is here).

OUTFIT #6: 013 /  016020 / 011
OUTFIT #7: 006008 / 010
OUTFIT #8: 002020 / 010
OUTFIT #9: 004007 / 009
OUTFIT #10: 025012 / 017

It is at this point in the project that I pause, because it is important. I once read an interview with Joan Didion, and she wrote something significant about how her family lived a life of privilege, and about how others felt that meant her feelings were somehow unwarranted, or unvalidated.

As if one couldn’t possibly feel unloved on satin sheets, or choke on room service.

As if we are not the same.

And to that I say this:

The number 25 is nothing. The number 25 is everything.

We are the same. I default to the paths my brain has formed, just as you default to the paths your brain has formed. Our paths lead to different places, forks in the head, dead ends in the mind. Sometimes we crawl out of them with caked dirt under our fingernails. Sometimes we just crawl.

Has that always been what this is about?

I will say this: I need less, right now. My paths are leading to fewer and deeper, and your paths might be leading to greater and higher. This is good. This is healthy.

And so, 25 is nothing. 25 is more than most, and less than most, and the coin toss matters not at all.

We are the same.

Yes, of course. It has always been about that.

  • So there were two years, like a lifetime (ok, a decade) ago, in which I lived in Central Asia and then Russia, a year each. I quickly learned that to wear a new outfit each day didn’t fit in with the culture there (especially in Kazakhstan). And I was teaching, and so I was center stage each day in front of a classroom full of teenagers, and that especially made it go against everything in me NOT to sport something different each day, but I needed to fit in and assimilate as much as possible into the simplicity and practicality (and totally non-Western-ness) of the culture there. And: once I got used to it, it was such a relief! All to say, this series is a great reminder for me of simpler times and how to do just as much, or even more, with less. And looking great to boot!

    • It is SUUUUCH a relief when we allow ourselves to do it, yes? Thank you for sharing such a vivid memory!!! :)

  • Oh, goodness. I am aspiring to this! I work outside the home, so 25 doesn’t seem feasible, but i am trying to get to something similar.

    Please tell me you have held on to that pair of your grandmother’s boots/shoes?

    • Hi Lisa:

      Funnily enough, those are the ONLY pair of boots I can’t bear to part with. They are incredible! :)

  • I was watching the live stream of the If Gathering this week-end – the theme was Faith/Belief and we were in the book of Joshua and Numbers and I was thinking about Christine Cain’s Message how the Israelites were in a “time of transitioning” – after 470 years of bondage and deliverance and finally now here they were on the edge of the promise land – on the edge of the river of Jordan and in Numbers 13 they didn’t go into the promise land and now in Joshua 1 it starts with Moses your servant is dead and I wonder what I am still holding on to that’s dead, that I haven’t recognized that this season is over, it is finished, that God is not doing it like that anymore…what am I holding onto…am I trying to hold onto things that God is saying that’s dead. There was a season for that relationship, or a season for that devotional life,or a season with my kids, but God is saying I have moved on, we are not in that season anymore, the worse thing is when you are still holding onto the past and not stepping into the future you cannot lay ahold of all that Christ has lay ahold of because I am holding onto what’s dead, there is no grace on it anymore, there is no oil on it anymore, the enablement of the Holy Spirit is not on it anymore, but am I so scared to step into what will be that I keep holding onto what was…”Moses my servant is dead” It’s time to move on…and the biggest thing from holding us to moving into the promises of God from really stepping into the believing life God has for us is that we are so unhealthy attached to the past. You cannot live in the past and lay ahold of the future. It’s time to move on if not you will die in the wilderness. It is time to set my foot in the river and move forward into the Promise Land.

    • Yes! One of my favorite writings from Cheryl Strayed is this one: “Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.” Amen, Amen, Amen.

  • You can pass that pink chiffon skirt right over here – I’ll add it to the pile I currently have that don’t fit quite right/are too long or short/need a bit of adjustment but I love them so I’m holding on. But I do need to clean out my spare room closet – I’m not doing theater anymore so I don’t need a bunch of costume pieces. Sigh. Sniff. Cling. I’m holding on to the sequined tube top a little longer too.

  • I really enjoyed this post. My toddler has been up screaming most of the night so my brain is fried, and I don’t have the words to fully explain how much I love your blog and your writing, but I do. Thank you.

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