Her chubby finger pointed to the red pair, her smile and eyes widening in anticipation. I pulled them from their perch and placed them on the floor in front of her. She grabbed my hand as she slid her tiny feet into them. She shuffled and clacked her way to the full length mirror.
"Oh, Mommy! I look beautiful in you shoes!"
She headed out of my room and down the hall, off to show Daddy her footwear. I could barely contain myself. It was one of the cutest things I had ever witnessed. She walked slowly and with purpose. She was proud of those shoes.
I turned and looked into my closet. While I was assessing the organized chaos I thought about my own mother’s closet. I would sit at the foot of her bed and watch as she opened the doors. I would crane my neck to get a peek of the lavender bridesmaids dress she wore for my uncle’s wedding, the tiny outfit I had worn for my preschool graduation. The outfit my mother had sullenly put on for her sister’s funeral.
My mother is not, and never was, the clothes horse that I am. I am not sure where my fashion hoarding comes from. But I do know that our closets both tell a tale of who we are, where we are going, where we have been. Hers was the prologue to my own. The dress I always admired, the bridesmaid’s gown, became my prom dress. A few alterations and my mother made sure it fit perfectly. I had never felt as beautiful as I did the day I wore my mother’s dress.
I unzipped the silver garment bag that hangs at the end of my closet. I ran my fingers over the fabric inside. Two gowns, only worn once each. The pink one to my sister’s wedding as her Matron of Honer and the blue, worn to the wedding of my dear friends while seven months pregnant. The amount of memories woven into the fabric that slipped between my fingers was astonishing. I had considered getting rid of them. Neither fit and I rarely went to events formal enough to make them appropriate anyway. I tucked them back into their bag and slowly zipped it closed. I would keep them. Maybe my daughter would one day feel beautiful in them.
I could hear the giggles coming from the kitchen where she was showing her daddy her shoes. The shoes I had bought to wear to an event after giving birth. An event that I was scared to dress my new body for. I bought the bright red shoes to distract from my perceived imperfections. I felt beautiful in those shoes, and now, so did my daughter. Even if they were enormously huge on her.
I turned back to my closet. There was my wedding dress. Still covered in grass stains and dirt from our beautiful back yard wedding. I closed my eyes and could feel the sun on my face and smell the crisp fall air as I vowed to do one of the most natural things I could imagine, love my husband for all of forever. I had no idea what that day would lead to. I pulled out my dress and held it. Whispers of that perfect day filled the room. The beginning of everything. That dress told the only story I needed. The story of us.
I gently put my dress back in it’s bag and back in my closet. I smiled as my eyes scanned the rest of the contents. They held memories. The stories, no matter how unintentional, were clear. The history they held, important. Every item had a story, a memory. No matter how much of a disaster my closet may be, it is mine. It holds the incredible stories that when woven, make up the fabric of me. Of my life.
I stepped back and closed my closet. I forgave myself for having too much in it. I let go of feeling overwhelmed by it’s overflowing contents. I silently thanked it for holding my stories, keeping them safe, preserving them so my daughter can make her own. I turned and left my room for the kitchen to catch the end of the fashion show that was happening. To watch my daughter dance in my shoes and feel beautiful.
Join me on Tuesday, March 25, at the River Garden in downtown Brattleboro. I will be there for a "Meet Your Columnist" series presented by The Strolling Of The Heifers. Bring your lunch and hang out with me (and my husband and kiddo). I am looking forward to meeting you all!
Michelle writes from the home she shares with her husband, their three year old daughter and two dogs. She is the authority on nothing and may just be the most outgoing shy person you will ever meet. Her daughter is convinced she is a super hero but most days she feels more like the super villain. Read more of her work on her blog at www.JuiceboxConfession.com, "like" her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/JuiceboxConfession or follow her on Twitter @Juicebox Confess. All love letters can be sent to JuiceboxConfession@gmail.com.