I will only admit to this once & since I’m posting this on the Internet, I guess that makes it a permanent statement. I finally got around to reading Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in all it’s weird, quasi-New-Age-y, yet surprisingly practical glory. (I hate admitting to reading popular stuff; it’s a bad snobby habit from working at Borders.) And I’ve also been using some of the suggestions to a degree, organizing & disposing of whatever doesn’t “spark joy.” (I cringe at typing that out loud.) But methodically facing down each item in every single drawer can be an interesting exercise in not only housekeeping, but memory. Which brings me to what I’d left in the very bottom drawer of my bureau, hidden under workout clothes & long heavy scarves: the abandoned sexy clothes of my 20s.
Three pairs of black pleather pants: two which have laces in the fly instead of zippers. One pair of slinky snakeskin-patterned pants. One blue corset. Not pictured: one black corset & one blue scarf with silver coins. I could only handle so much nostalgia-cringe in one picture. But I wasn’t alone as I rifled through the drawer with memories flooding back to me. My husband watched from the floor as I pulled out each item, exclaiming, “Where did you get those? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wear them.” I kept the answer brief: they were for going out, not for work or casual dates.
I didn’t admit that I’d bought them with a bunch of other clothes that I’d long since gotten rid of: the cobalt blue tee with black side laces & a silver studded black star, another black tee with silver stars across the chest and bondage straps from shoulder to hem, a long sleeved black shirt with a crooked silver star, the ankle-length vinyl coat that buttoned under my breasts & flared from my waist. These were my Richmond uniforms; the vestments for my imagined Goth heaven. I wore the black pleather with an ankh braided in the laces as I prowled Hollywood Cemetery, taking pictures on a rainy day. I wore these clothes when I went clubbing on my 21st birthday in the Bottom. I wore them when I went on hours-long drives through the counties surrounding my hometown, playing Nine Inch Nails at a deafening level & sobbing over the steering wheel because I didn’t want to go home. I wore them while I wrote poetry on Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday in a cafe because I wanted so very badly to be sexy & creative & a living dead girl & the green light of sickly hope in a pale boy’s fever dream.
I wanted, in short, to be none more Goth. Oh my stars.
All of these memories returned to me as I unsuccessfully tried on each item–a definitive reminder that no, they no longer fit. So much longing & seeking wrapped up in these clothes. I had worn them like armor as I had desperately searched, the way only the young search, for something or someone similar. And I can’t recall a single specific moment when I decided to put them away, bury them like secret love letters beneath my warmest, most favorite green scarf. Possibly sometime before I got serious with my then-boyfriend-now-husband? Did I surrender that persona slowly, caving to the pressure to grow up & get my shit together? Or did it stop fitting when I stopped looking outside of myself for answers & started taking care of myself? The answers are perhaps best pondered on my own.
But, there was one thing I was sure of: some of these abandoned sexy clothes no longer held a place my heart. I gently folded up the 4 pairs of pants & put them in the bag designated for Goodwill. “I don’t know if a lot of people are wearing black pleather anymore,” my husband snarked. “Yeah, I know,” I said, “But they don’t belong here.” And off they went the next day. I hope they might fuel the dreams of another young Goth looking for answers in the world.