In sorting through their baby and toddler clothes the other day, and in putting them away, in boxes I purchased, I was reminded of writing.
I was reminded how, through writing, we’re given the opportunity to sort through things, to put things where we think they should belong, and uncover things, things that have since been lost from our everyday memories.
Having gone through this twice with clothes and many times in my writings, I can say that these processes can be surprising, at times, in that you never know where you’ll “end up” when it’s all done with. You always assume going into it that you’ve moved on from the past. It is just the past, after all. You assume that you’re just sorting, digging through and will come out, in the end, unscathed. But in holding them and recalling what once was, you hear stories that give you reason to become invested, to remember and feel…something.
It wasn’t her baby clothes that made me nostalgic. It was the clothes from her toddlerhood, that time when she was speaking and becoming this person who cared about what they looked like and could form these, seemingly, complex associations with her clothes and those intangible things called “feelings.” Her yellow dress she twirled in as a princess. The white canvas shorts she despised. That conversation/”argument” we had about her brown skirt. It was getting too short, but she wanted it anyway because it made her feel “pretty.”
These clothes carry words and have memories of the person who first wore them, my first born. But now, or yesterday, in sorting through them, I kept having to remind myself that they will have new memories and words with the new body that will wear them, my second born.
She will speak in them and tell me about them and how they make her feel. “I feel like a princess!” “They’re itchy.” I don’t want this string here!” And if they last another year, we will do this all again. Recycle clothes. Put them in boxes when they are “finished” and wait for them to be used again, loved again, given meaning, again. The cycles will repeat themselves. The wash and rinse cycles and the cycles of meaning I’ll attach to these pieces of cloth as a mother and writer…they’ll repeat themselves.
And in the end, or when we’re all done with this, they’ll just be clothes with layered voices that will speak only to me about where they’ve been. They’ll have stories and memories that I’ll recall like my childhood in my own writings and tell, again and again.