Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Golden Anniversary: Clothing as Metaphor

It's a shame that I don't have my Internet hooked up to my desktop computer or the scanner hooked up either.  I've been sorting through box after box, and I've come across many a wedding photo.  It would be neat to be able to share them here.  Of course, there will be future years.

Twenty-five years ago, I'd have been getting ready to marry my college boyfriend, Carl.  And here we are, all those years later, still together.

There are pictures elsewhere, most notably in last year's post that commemorated my anniversary.  I especially love the one of my grandmother ironing my dress.  Honestly, it wasn't even wrinkled.  And I was just going to be dragging the hem everywhere.

But I never shared my grandmother's view of the necessity of ironing.  Now that I'm older, I'm more appreciative of all the efforts that she made for us, even if I didn't see the wisdom at the time.

I wore that dress and dutifully took it to be cleaned at a French cleaners.  Someone told me it was better.  They asked if I wanted the box which would protect the dress against everything short of nuclear war.  I was a grad student with no money to spare.  I said no.

I got the dress back in a plastic bag, which I've taken with me across numerous state and county lines.  This may be the anniversary where I cut a bit of it to save and throw the rest away.

Twenty-five years have not been kind to that dress, and the plastic got a hole somewhere along the way.  The fabric has strange spots.

Plus, I hardly have enough closet space for the clothes that I can wear.

The headpiece and veil that my mother made for me has stood up surprisingly well.  I may hang onto that one a few more years.

Of course, I could ask myself why.  I don't have children.  Even if I did, would the next generation want that headpiece and veil?

I'm thinking of metaphor, the fancy dress and the simpler headpiece.  The headpiece and veil have endured perhaps because they weren't made of high end materials, like silks and velvets.  They're artificial:  nylon netting and a plastic comb to hold the headpiece in place and plastic beads and cloth flowers.

Maybe what saved it was that I didn't wrap it in plastic.

I like that headpiece and veil as a metaphor for marriage.  Marriages are meant to be unwrapped, to be lived in.  You can't go through a marriage worrying about ruining the fancy materials.  You can't wear that wedding dress every day.

Of course, most of us don't wear the headpiece and veil every day either.  So, perhaps I need to think a bit more about this metaphor.

Or maybe go in a different direction.  Let me record a  different clothes-related anecdote that may shed light on my marriage.

We've been doing a lot of moving this summer, moving all of our possessions from one place to another.  When I'm not dressed for work, I'm wearing clothes that are the worse for wear, no make-up, and all my hair pulled back.  I don't think it's my most attractive look.

At one point, I apologized for looking so dreadful.  My spouse gave me a kiss and said, "I don't see it that way.  I think you've been looking more like yourself."

It took me back to the me I used to be:  a backpacker, a woman who loved her favorite clothes into shreds, a woman who was happy to wear the threadbare clothes of others whom she loved.  I never wore much make up, not even for special occasions.  I cut my own hair or just wore it long and pulled back.

And that's the incarnation of me that my spouse first fell in love with twenty-five years ago.  So, perhaps the better clothing metaphor for marriage would be a torn pair of jeans, a shirt loved threadbare.

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