My past has been a lot more present in recent days. Dinner with Bill last Wednesday took me back to high school, and going through the box of memorabilia looking for the baby shoes reinforced that sense of time travel. I took a little time this weekend to go through that box more carefully and consider whether I still wanted to keep the things inside, given that the baby shoes are on their way out of my life.
There were several tee shirts I kept to remind me of significant times in my life. The white one that read “I’m an Accent– Attack Me” shows my saucy band geek side from high school. That can go, since I can’t think of any situation in which wearing it would be appropriate these days, especially since, like most of the shirts in the box, it’s sized for my thinner, younger self and would be eye-poppingly tight on my more mature figure. The light yellow shirt with navy trim from Six Flags St. Louis can go, too; that’s a souvenir of a day spent there while on a band trip, a good time, and an important day in getting closer to Mr. Karen in our pre-dating days, but not one I need a thin and faded tee to remember. I will be keeping my royal blue pep band shirt for a while yet; it can represent all the fun band days. The name on the back of that one is “Ibid”, a nickname I picked up due to my English geek skills; you gotta love those footnotes in research papers. The Junior Achievement shirt can go. There’s nothing special about that one; I can’t even think of when or where I wore it, and I can recall my JA time without seeing the shirt. Similarly, the black Mummenschanz tee can go, as I do not need it to remember the times that Mom took me to see shows in Chicago, not just that one but plays and ballets, too. I’m not yet ready to let go of the two college era shirts in the box: the floor shirt from my freshman year and a Don’s Windmill Truck Stop tee that’s meaningful only to me and few friends from that time in my life.
I’m also keeping the three fashion nightmares because they amuse me. There’s the royal blue gym suit from high school, an shortie jumpsuit that all we girls had to wear, while the boys got to wear white tees and shorts. I made the best of it by personalizing the back with my name embroidered in light blue floss, with lavender flowers accenting the first letter. There’s the yellow calico tube top with detachable ruffled halter strap. This is something my mom sewed for me, at my insistence, because we found the shirred material that formed the tube while on vacation and it exactly matched a skirt I had at home. My penchant for finding connections and matching up things that go together is a big part of my personality, and this top, unfashionable as it is, represents that. It also reminds me of the trip on which I flew for the first time, not that I’m likely to forget. The last tacky clothing item in the box is a flame stitch top in blues and browns with lilac and white accents. I thought this was just the height of fashion and wore it proudly with turquoise pants. Man, what was I thinking?! I was tickled see clothes in similar fabrics come back briefly with the 70’s fashion revival, but used my good judgment and left this piece in storage.
The best thing in the box was my Madame Alexander ballerina doll. Her name is Elise, as christened by the doll company. She’s a redhead who came dressed in a pink tutu—a fashion don’t? She’s not a collectible; her box and tags are long gone, and I played with her (gasp!), so she’s somewhat worn. My mom gave Elise to me for Christmas one year when we were still living at what became Dad’s house after the divorce, so it was probably 1969 or 1970. For being over 30 and having moved house several times, she’s in pretty good shape. She still has the costume she came in, complete with tights and the floral wreath for her hair. She also has the wardrobe I made for her. There are some things I sewed from patterns I drafted using library books on making doll clothes, including the white Empire-style dress with matching pantalets. There’s a whole mix and match collection in lilac, yellow, and a white with gold and purple floral print that I sewed from my own designs. Since it was the 1970’s, there are a lot of tube tops and halters for her to wear. I never learned to make shoes, so she either had to go barefoot or wear her pink satin ballet slippers. I think I’ll keep Elise for a while; maybe she’ll make a good gift for that future grandniece, something more personal than never-used baby shoes.
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