I had already been living out of a suitcase for weeks. I returned from India to a suitcase of nice clothes, having put the rest of my wardrobe into storage before the two month-long trip. But because I had no idea what I would be doing upon return, the suitcase contents (54 pieces including workout clothes, pajamas, and other items not to be worn out but not including shoes, accessories, or under things) were proving insufficient.
I have lived out a suitcase many times in my life. Most recently, when I was moving from New York to New Orleans, I lived solely out of a suitcase for two months while still working full-time in an image-conscious city. I know how to be resourceful, and I know how to live minimally. But what I am still struggling with is how to live with discomfort.
That discomfort and sense of uncertainty led to a moment of desperation in a (fancy) strip mall in Mandeville, LA, where I purchased this pair of stretch denim jeans from a chain store that I haven’t shopped at in years. I had only one reliable pair of pants in my suitcase: a pair of fantastic 100% cotton jeans whose days have been numbered for a while. Not wanting to risk not having a pair of pants one day, I knew I had to find a backup pair fast. Denim is something I just can’t shop online for, especially when legging jeans are constantly out to trick us into buying them, so my options were limited. My mom graciously bought these jeans for me, almost certainly out of sympathy for the sob story of how uncomfortable it is to be in a state of life limbo that requires living out a suitcase.
I have worn these jeans once so far, and while I plan to wear them again in future, I’m not really sure how I feel about them. Just as clothing can take on wonderful memories of experiences, places and people, they can bring us back to moments of weakness, sadness, regret and all those other negative memories too: the dress you wore to a funeral, the bracelet you were wearing during the epic fight with your best friend, or the sweater that was a gift from an ex. In this instance, these jeans remind me of the time where I didn’t go with my gut and hold out to buy something that would I would love and that would make me feel at my best. They remind me of getting emotional in a Banana Republic dressing room as my mom tried to console me by telling me I looked great. And they remind me of why I write and believe in this blog in the first place.
The things we own and wear can have such a powerful influence over us. They become part of us and the moments in our lives if we let them. Often they even become external manifestations of how we’re feeling on the inside. And just as every person has flaws, our closets have flaws too. In this season of gratitude and giving and as we get ready to start a new year, my hope is that all of us, myself included, will be grateful for our own (and our closet’s or our suitcase’s) imperfections, knowing that without them, we wouldn’t have the chance to grow.
Do you have an item you wear (or don’t wear) that reminds you of a mistake or a bad experience? Have you kept the item? And if so, why? Share your stories by commenting below or tweeting @ThisIWear.