I need to clear out my wardrobe. Not just a little clear out but a serious bleach and polish clear out. I have been putting it off. As you do, with jobs that seem big. One of the reasons for the long finger is that one of the things I know I need to do is make a decision about a long black coat that has seen better days.
If you read articles about de-cluttering and making room in modern lives there is no room for sentimentality. No room for seeing if that lovely dress will fit– when I get skinny again. Or, when I at last figure out how to, patching the pair of jeans that fit perfectly but have a hole in the knee and somewhere more embarrassing.
And it especially has no room for life stories connected to the most cherished of items.
When I was young I grew up in what I thought was a privileged home.
My father worked as a building contractor. He did ok, until my early teens. Then things changed.
My mother had a saying during that time, she talked about her friends who were finding things tight – “they have no money AFTER the bills are paid. We have no money BEFORE the bills are not paid”.
When the TV rental man came and repossessed the very old TV we had and carried it out past me and my two friends one Tuesday tea time a little part of me died. The phone had already been cut off for about six months, that had been horrible and embarrassing, but no telly… That was the worst.
Then the house was lost. And we moved, without my now bankrupt father, to Tallaght in the outskirts of Dublin.
I liked Tallaght and my new school. I made really wonderful friends. I didn’t like that there were no footpaths anywhere you wanted to walk. I didn’t like that there were no conventional shops for miles and only a few caravans and containers selling over priced necessities.
But my mother was incredible. If she didn’t always have happy a sunny disposition she did have a can do attitude. She made bread, grew vegetables and knitted jumpers. For years we all wore clothes given to us by those who noticed we were struggling. We were often like ragamuffins. But it was the 1980’s so a dark grandad’s shirt over a dark long skirt could be seen as kind of Cure/Smiths alternative… well at least in my head.
I never possessed a new coat until I was nearly 30 years old when my now husband bought me a new coat.
I don’t know if he knows how big a deal it was for me. I’ve always told him it’s lovely. But maybe I didn’t tell him how I felt so rich to have a partner who wanted to buy me a coat and to at last own a coat of my own. The years of wearing others’ cast offs or a coat I wore when I was 14 had never really bothered me but that moment he made me try on a long black coat in Arnotts and told me he was buying it for me, well… Every winter when I put it on I feel a million dollars. So the coat is going nowhere, it’s staying put, getting a little touch up and being lovingly kept.