Not About the Virus
The Alex and Ronni Show

A TGB READER STORY: Sometimes I Forget

By Ann Burack-Weiss

Sometimes I forget. Especially when the weather takes a turn toward chill and the store windows are filled with fall fashions. I see a well-cut plaid skirt in beige and black, note it would look smashing with a turtleneck in either color, and think, “Just what I need.”

I imagine that I will leave the shop with both the skirt and a beautiful beaded sweater that caught my eye. That although there is no gala occasion to wear the sweater coming up, there is sure to be one before long. And won’t I be pleased with myself for having thought ahead.

Sometimes I forget. Especially on a crisp October day like today. I imagine that I will get up tomorrow morning and decide what clothes best suit where I’m headed. A teaching day? A library day? Field visits to social agencies? Lunch with colleagues? Department meetings? A play or concert in the evening? That I’ll ponder the chance of rain before tugging on suede boots – taking my chances because they go so well with what I have on.

That I will brush out my long hair - pulled back straight from my forehead – before settling on chignon, French braid, or round bun. That V-neck sweaters worn with large hoop earrings (silver one day, gold the next) still look good on me.

So easy it is to forget – on this day that shouts “back to work ” - that the life I once had, the body I once dressed for that life, is no longer mine.

So hard to remember that a changed hairline dictates a curly, no- nonsense bob. That a shorter shape and diminishing waistline precludes many clothing choices and a reduced round of outside activities takes care of the rest. That yoga outfits, black pants, black skirt, and a few tops, are all the clothes I will need for the rest of my life.

Sometimes, I just forget.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

Comments

Wow, what a simple yet powerful story. Thank you for sharing this.

Here I sit in NYC - the epicenter of the coronavirus - open my email and find the essay I submitted Before. Before, when regrets over a daily routine and physical appearance changed by old age were enough of a Big Deal to write about! Before, when I did not have to don a mask and gloves to venture out of my apartment. Before, when fears for the well being of my family and friends and colleagues has blossomed out to fill the planet. Before, when I did not - despite 83 years walking this earth and half a century teaching social work - realize the extent of our interconnectedness and the power of kindness and love.
To Ronni, to all of you whose wisdom inspires me every day. May you stay strong. May you be well. May we all meet again on the other side of this stronger than we entered. Ann Burack-Weiss

Took me a few years to figure this out, and then donate all the 'not my life' items to a charity store. I still buy the best quality I can afford. If a woman of any age wants to wear a particular item simply because she feels good in it, good for her!
Thank you!

Thank you, Ann Barack-Weiss. Stay well...

Oddly, perhaps, I remember specific dresses and outfits I had long ago, even as a teenager. Why such things should stick in my head is a puzzle: The two-piece blue and white eyelet Easter dress my dad bought for me. A particular, really smashing red wool sheath dress. A black sheath dress with a big white giraffe printed on it, peeking over the shoulder. A winter coat, wool, in a giant window-pane plaid of black, brown, and white. And so many more. These days it's just jeans or sweatpants (all with elastic waists!) with a colorful polo shirt. None of them memorable in any way.

Thank you Ann and Ronni for sharing this now, as so many of us are “Marie Kondo-ing” or Swedish Death Cleaning while self isolating. I was surprised by the emotional reactions and insights I’ve had while deciding to finally let go of the beautiful “costumes “ that used to communicate who I was in the roles I used to live. It was heartwarming, amusing and comforting to read Ann’s piece and be reminded once again, in these surreal times, that however isolated we are, we are not alone ☺️. Stay safe - and comfortable 😉.
Erika B

Thank you so much for writing this beautiful, cogent piece...........and then adding more wisdom in your comment. There's a lot of freedom in letting go of the once exciting appearance efforts. And enjoying other, younger women's beauty. And sometimes, when appropriate, complimenting them on that.

I want to follow your example, to thank you and Ronni, and all the readers who share their wisdom and experiences. You enlarge my world.

Sometimes I forget, too. I've purged most things I know I'll never need again, but miss the fun and anticipation of new outfits that will actually fit ... as well as the new and exciting experiences I bought them for.
Wonderful, wonderful essay!

Thank you, Ann. And for your additional comment.

Although I’m close to 70 and still working by choice, I miss the days of old. The work attire is much more casual than it was so long ago. I think back often of the clothes and coats I loved. I would love another Chesterfield coat with the velvet collar. But even if I found one it’s a bit dressy to wear to the grocery store. At least we still have our memories. Amazing how we cherish them more as we age.

What a wonderful essay. Thank you, Ann, for expressing it in such a clear way.

After retiring I donated most of my beautiful career clothes to a group that helps unemployed women dress and prepare for interviews. I like to think of my clothes bringing these women increased opportunities and improved income.

Meanwhile, I have reverted to the self I was at 10 years old - a total tomboy who refused to dress up. Every day it is just jeans and a shirt, sneakers or sandals. I kept a few items that I use on those occasions that I need to "clean-up" and look like an adult.

The memories of those clothes is pleasant but so is the freedom of not having to wear them now.

Thank you, Ann, for the lovely evocative essay and the "Before" comment." I purged my closet recently and after many years donated a skirt that I had held on to -through other purges and even though times when it did not fit. I still have the memory and it takes up no closet space.

Be safe, and be well.


Thank you, Ronni , for providing this space.
May YOU be safe and well

Yes, thank you Ann Barack-Weiss for a lovely essay and comment. But also thank you Ronni, again for this blog and the heart-warming comments that connect us all!

This one hit me in the feels!

Back in the 60's DH and I were invited to a Christmas party/dance.

Who enjoys shopping for one occasion dresses?

Waste of time, money.

I mined my closet. Anything I could wear?

There was one dress, an oldie. Floor length black velvet. Tight. Too tight for dancing.

Around the same time I had a 78 rpm music album by Cher, who was pumping out hits like gumdrops.

The album cover featured Cher in a floor length black velvet dress, slit way up the side.

I had an idea.

Packed my dress and the album, went to my favourite senior seamstress who worked in a windowless room above the local dry cleaner.

I showed Maria the album, and my dress. "Can you design my dress like this one?"

Maria gave me a what the beep look like "where did you get this idea?"

"And how high do you want the slit?"

"Thigh high."

"Okay."

She did an awesome job.

You should be dancing..

The dress is long gone now. Like many commenters above me, I'm into jeans, t shirts, sneakers.

Former work clothes are adios.


Very poignant piece, Ann! Good lord, do I ever relate! And I too have several really lovely outfits that I can never wear again. Kills me. It's time for me to pass them on. But, but--

"Swedish Death Cleaning?" AHAHAHAHAHA!!

The hair is the worst.

I use to sew most of my clothes... and I was good at it. I am not a standard size (is anybody?). Finding appropriate and attractive clothes that did drag on the floor was not possible when I was a young woman. I envy you Ann... I would look in the stores but then go home and try to duplicate.

Overall I like being retired. Like many commenters the daily retired garb is jeans and tee shirts. But I do miss those lovely clothes. Some have been donated but some I just can't part with even tho I know I'll never have an occasion to use them again... if they fit.

Also from way back... my first piano recital... I was about 10 years old. Dark blue taffeta that rustled, trimmed with red velvet piping and a white lace collar. I felt elegant... and I managed to get thru my piece with no mistakes. I think my Mom sewed that one for me.

And... I need an idea. About 50 years ago, my Mom gave me a length of garnet colored silk velvet to make an evening skirt for a special event. It is the most gorgeous fabric I've ever owned. Alas the event was cancelled and I still have the fabric. What to do?

Trudi -

That garnet silk velvet sounds like it wants to be a robe!

Something that feels luxurious against your skin, that will make you say "Now doesn't she look happy!" when you pass by a mirror while wearing it. Curl up, wear it all day. Read a book, take a nap, wake up to all that jewel-toned fabric in puddles around you.

Thank you my dear friend Ann Burack Weiss,
While I appreciate that you wrote this essay light years before "the life we all live now", i.e. "Before C.V." it struck a chord for me, and obviously for others in this wonderful on line chat group.
You and I have had many discussions about my giving away my beloved blazers which I no longer wear but can't seem to donate. I think it's the loss of what all that those clothes symbolize : the vibrancy of going to work, wearing fetching outfits and jewelry to be admired and complimented by others, to attract a mate. Now like so many of you, I wear variations of the same thing every day.
However, in this brutal pandemic, I got an email from my 80 y/o cousin in Texas. She and her husband were celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary, and they pulled out all the stops. They dressed up, my cousin wore make-up(she always does) and jewelry, and they sat down to dinner using their fine china and crystal.
Maybe this is "Texas style" as she often reminds me , but I'm now just grateful for being able to shower, have food, and the most rare of commodities, known as "TP"(toilet paper).
It was so validating to read how others also have a struggle in letting go of favorite outfits.
My mother-in-law survived Auschwitz. Till her dying day she dressed beautifully no matter what was going on in the world. She made all of her own clothes and rarely bought "new".
Even at 87, she would tell me, "I love to look at fashion". "I love window shopping".
Than you for what your essay inspired in the Comments. For me this was a wake up call, and
if Good Will stores open up at some point, I will be donating all my "non-essential" clothing.
A great essay. Truly one for "As Time Goes By".
And for Trudi : my recommendation for your garnet silk fabric is a shawl.
Thank you Ronni, and all the others in this knock your socks off community.
Be well. Stay safe.

When I think about clothes, I think about my mother, who was always elegant and very beautiful. She also loved to design clothes and to knit and crotchet.

I am now an old-old woman chronologically, but "young in spirit"--( translate as pretty foolish, fun loving). I still have some very old clothes, the "special" ones, and surprisingly,I wore one recently and received compliments...(from someone blind?..)Ha ha.

I have kept and still wear some berets and sweaters she made for me. They are, of course, unique and often attract positive comments.

One thing I learned from my lovely mother was not to accumulate clothes that I no longer wore. Buy a skirt-discard one; buy a top-discard one!

I would watch the Netflix documentary, Iris, on designer Iris Apfel, who is as fashionably dressed as any 30 year old. There's no age limit on fashion. I for one never cared much for adornment. I love beautiful things, but never needed the, to be on me, so don't directly feel the loss you describe. I love comfy clothes and not bothering with earrings.

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