When I was in grad school, I wore what I thought was a wide variety of outfits; however, a classmate made an observation that gave me pause (sketch 1). Not long after that, I worked at The Crisis Center and the executive director smiled cheerfully when I walked in after the weekend (sketch 2).
I ditched a lot of vests and miss some of them now. Once I started knitting, I became a fan of scarves and wear them pretty religiously. Students have pointed out that I have a lot of scarves, but I no longer feel embarrassed or weird about my clothing choices. I’ve aged into a comfortable style that’s all my own.
My younger son and I shared lots of clothing and footwear for a short period of time. That crossover was special. He loved vibrant colors and patterns, but didn’t really like to shop. I scoured thrift stores and retail outlets for the rich hues and textures he requested. I embraced those missions with gusto, knowing whatever fit me well would likely work on him, and I loved sharing the treasures I’d discovered. While I was away at a conference, I found purple pull-on shoes on the sale rack at a sporting goods store downtown. He happily donned them to complement his pink and red attire for the school’s Valentine’s Day dance that year. One winter vacation, we all piled into the car to spend a day in Burlington, Vermont together. We hunted for the pale green pants he wanted and found them at the wonderful Dirt Chic consignment shop. We caught a movie and then Thai food for dinner before heading home.
There may have been a conflict brewing in the back seat, an undercurrent of sarcasm, or a loud, heavy sigh. Perhaps I was caught tuning them out, staring at the bare trees and the dark, icy lake as we made our way from the ferry to the little city. No. What I remember now is a pretty flawless family outing.
Almost a year after my boy died, I visited Dirt Chic again with a friend. I convinced her to get the cute teal jacket ($12!!) and she encouraged me to try on the lemon print pants. They came home with me. Months later, I bought paisley patterned jeans. These, along with the brick red jeans and the pale green corduroys I inherited from my son, mix up the “Monday pants” routine. They’re festive, fun, and fit me perfectly. They remind me that I’m still here, that I can choose to grab a little brightness from the closet shelf to step forward any day of the week.