There comes a day when, as Bruce Springsteen sings, I check my look in the mirror and “I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face.”
That day came recently when I decided I’m tired of my daily costuming. I don’t want to look like I’ve just come in from mowing the grass. The everyday look I want is something between Endora on “Bewitched” and Moira on “Schitt’s Creek.” In short, more drama and more glamour.
Not that changing our appearance will change everything. I know a pretty cat with the pretty name of Calliope, but with the personality of a grapefruit.
I thought about trying to change my face. I consulted a friend who is an expert on the subject of physical improvements and said, “I’m thinking about getting a little Botox injection right here. What do you think?” She took the question seriously, intently studied where I’d just pointed and said, “Oh, that place is the least of your problems.”
Who else but a good friend — or a sister — tells it like it is?
So I’ve given up the idea of Botox. I’m opting for layering on more eye makeup. Something like Colette at her most extreme, which, if you can’t recall the look, resembles a racoon. Colette was a French writer who was daring and fearless. She said, “You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” The older she grew, the more excessive her look became with frizzled hair and scarves. Also, she liked cats. I already like cats and scarves, so I’m on my way.
What about new clothes? Wait a minute. After decades of working at places that called for fancy events, I have closets full of frou-frou clothes. I raced to them and discovered I’ve given most away to thrift shops. It was the same sinking feeling I have when I go to my well-
organized library for a book I need and realize it was among the bags and boxes of books I donated to the Holland Hall Book Fair.
As I think about it, nearly every item I have purged or decluttered or pared down, I have wanted back again. I got the stuff in the first place because I liked it and even if years pass and I don’t use it, I know it’s there. I have been misled by the gospel of decluttering. For me it is a false doctrine I regret. I still mourn a denim coat I gave away 15 years ago.
About that same time, I pulled into my own driveway one day and a woman in a pickup truck barreled into me and totaled my beloved 20-year-old Volvo. Another old thing I cherished. I called people for sympathy and too many of them said, “The same thing happened to me, and ...” Who cares? I identify with the Irish saying, “There is no sore arse like your own sore arse.”
I was the epitome of self-pity. Turning into my own driveway on a bright afternoon, and just like that everything changed. “Just like that” — the phrase that is the guillotine of life.
Oh, we are a weary people. It is easy to despair.
But, suddenly, here it is June. The perennials have bloomed from the cool earth, so brave and faithful. The trees, so blackly silhouetted against the sky all winter, are full of fresh green leaves. I think of the Dylan Thomas poem that begins, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower drives my green age …”
I’m starting over. I found a woman who sells Japanese michiyuki jackets in bright colors. How’s that for daily glam? I’m unpacking my jewelry to wear every day.
No more decluttering. And no more drawers full of the good towels and napkins like my grandmother saved for company. Use it. Wear it.