Fashion-Linked Memory

Thank you all for the good wishes about my grandfather. They really meant a lot to me. He’s supposed to be having the surgery next week and in the meantime the stubborn old bastard talked them into letting him go home, with strict orders not to exert himself in any way. I’m relying on Grandma to see that he follows those orders.

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Has anyone else been singing Bombs Over Baghdad lately, or am I the only one who uses my sick sarcastic black sense of humor to cope with major events?

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I’ve always been fascinated by the way we remember things. Especially when something big is going down and you have that moment of realization – when you think “this is all burning into my memory.” And my memory is a little strange, so sometimes it happens with not so big events too, and the way I remember things is always kind of odd.

Like last night. I’m working on moving my phonathon room to a new location and around 10:00 last night was in the old room, packing stuff up, moving tables, labeling the things that needed to go and the things that needed to stay. My cell phone rang, and it was Witchy calling to tell me that she was watching the bombs fall on TV. I was standing there in the dismantled room talking to her, asking her what she thought about things, because Witchy is too young to remember the last Gulf War, and suddenly I looked over at my purple sweater and my car keys sitting on a chair and had that moment of realization. That this was the part I would remember, in ten, twenty years – the car keys and the sweater on that chair as Witchy was telling me the news.

I have this weird fashion-linked memory, especially strange since I’m not the most stylish person on the planet or anything – it’s just always what I remember. Whenever I have a major memory, I ALWAYS remember what I’m wearing.

September 11th – pink boatneck sweater, black pants, black boots, standing downstairs by a stack of boxes of stationery in shock, watching the towers fall on the little TV.

Junior year of high school, when I wrecked my first car on a rainy day much like today. Jeans, Notre Dame sweatshirt, ponytail. I was standing there with that stupid huge bag cell phone in my hand telling the person I’d hit to quit yelling at me so I could call my parents.

I remember that when my roommate told me she was moving out, she was wearing that snowflake sweater that I’d never really liked.

I remember the first time I saw another friend after she betrayed me and I was wearing a white Gap tee shirt and cut off sweat pants, workout clothes, and I was pissed that I looked so slobby.

I remember that when C and I went to Van Dyke’s for Valentine’s Day I was wearing a black skirt and a purplish velvet top and I got tipsy from the wine and warmed my hands in his camel-hair coat.

I remember what I was wearing on train trips, plane trips, dates, classes, meetings, all kinds of things. Sometimes going years back. Anytime something interesting, strange, especially good, or particularly bad happens in my life, my memory records the clothes I’m wearing. I can’t explain it.

Spelling bees, for example. I remember what I wore to every major spelling bee I participated in. I remember the clothes I wore nearly every time I slept with a man. I remember what I was wearing for every job interview I’ve had, every first day on the job.

My life is catalogued according to my fashion choices, good and bad.

Which means I remember how great I looked in the black and gray suit for the Teach for America interview that I bombed, but also how shitty I looked in my totally early 90s garb for the New Kids on the Block concert where I screamed myself hoarse.

Am I the only one whose memory works this way? Probably.

I’m a little weird.

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