We are prisoners to our past. We all have memories. Sometimes, without controlling it, our memory plays tricks on us and reminds us of the past. In those nostalgic moments some choose to relive that memory by looking at old photo albums (or usb keys for the younger crowd), by cooking a classic family dish, by going to the place where that memory was created… They also say smells can evoke memories. Imagine you could bottle up a memory like a scent? (stole that sentence from ‘’Rebecca’’ a movie on Netflix.) On a side note, yes, I have been binge watching Netflix these days. Back to memories. My recollections are through my wardrobe. Often my friends tell me I have way too much clothes. The answer is: yes! They are right. Once, one of my friends told me I would scare a man away if he’d visit and see how much clothing I owned HAHA. To me my clothing is way more than pieces of fabric. Most of the clothing I own I don’ t even wear. I have a bad habit of keeping them as a souvenir. This may sound crazy to some but I have a photographic memory. Even though I can forget a lot of details of my past, I always remember what I was wearing on special occasions. As strange as it might be, I have an emotional attachment to my clothing. And this isn’t new. As a kid my dad had told me I couldn’t have feelings for things since they couldn't reciprocate.
Again this week, a dress I haven’t worn in years reminded me of a New Year party I spent with so-and-so. This is why it isn’t something I can get rid of easily. Every piece of clothing has a story. What if I get rid of it, and loose my memory at the same time. This is also why I fell in love with thrifting. I am giving the opportunity to a piece of clothing to live another life. I always loved imagining who wore what I bought? Where were they going? For what occasion? With whom? I always personify my clothing. They have feelings right?
All these nostalgic thoughts started about three weeks ago when I took an appointment at ''Common Sort'', a second hand store in downtown Toronto. They allow you to sell some of your clothes to get store credit or a lump sum. Before Covid, you didn’t have to take an appointment to sell your clothes. With this new system, I hadn’t realised how far away my appointment was. Since then, I have been decluttering my apartment and putting some clothes in a sale pile. I used to have this rule: one piece of clothing comes in, another one comes out. Even though I attach sentimental value to my clothing, I also always want some new pieces (thrifted items are still considered new to me.) I need to clarify that not all pieces of clothing have a sentimental value. Often it is more so related to a special event, a travel memory…
So, as I was piling up clothing to sell, I kept on going back into my bags. Looking at what I was getting rid of and remembering when I wore it last. As of recently, I was becoming a champion at decluttering and getting rid of stuff. But when your life changes drastically, you are no longer willing to part from those little ‘’moments’’. For a while, I lived my life on trips out of my suitcase. In my carry on, I would bring strictly the necessities, meaning only a few pieces of clothing made the cut and were repetitively worn for the whole duration of that stay. So, one of the jackets I had put in my sale pile, I had last worn in 2015 was written Paris all over it (not literally.) I spent a few days in February, in the city of love, wearing that black oversized trench coat. Will I ever wear it again? Probably not. However, right now, it represents a memory I am not ready to say goodbye to. It may sound crazy, but as I reread this part of my text out loud (like I always do when I am done with an article) I couldn’t keep my composure and I shed a few tears. This is exactly the way I felt when I took out that jacket from the sale pile. A lot of people bring back souvenirs from their trips, usually a little tacky trinket: a magnet, an ornament, a mug, a shot glass...to each their own, I don’t really do that. I guess my clothes are my trinkets...Souvenirs.
On a positive note, even though I went through my bags of souvenirs with a fine comb, I was still able to bring two full reusable bags of clothes at ''Common Sort''. I sold about 15 pieces of clothing. I still have a lot and I will try to sell the rest of the stuff online. Now that you know this personal side of me, I’d love to know what evokes your memories? For me these pieces of fabric are the fabric of my life.