It’s probably jumping the gun just a little to start referencing the dog days less than a full week after the official onset of summer, but hey, it’s my blog, and I’ll call things whatever I want. Besides, these are the go-go years: everything’s accelerated these days, and if elementary school starts on August 10, well, then, maybe June 25 falls squarely during the dog days of summer, after all.
Dog days or not, it’s hot and drowsy ’round here, and most folks are trying to stay out of the midday sun. One of the things that has given shape to our days the past few weeks (along with watching the squirrels carry off our produce) has been the summer’s requisite round of swimming lessons, which along with making the Girleens more proficient swimmers (Starfish Two and a Guppy Two, respectively, and Thank God we’ve moved past the Mommy-and-me class level and I no longer have to sing “The Wheels on the Bus” while trying to coax a one-year-old into the water) have meant a heck of a lot of driving for Mom.
Swimming lessons have also led to discovery that there’s a place that makes a mean Vietnamese Iced Coffee on the way to the Emory University Pool.
Emory may be intown Atlanta to most folks, but since it’s north of I-20, it might as well be Ultima Thule to us so it’s been nice to check out a new neck of the woods: along with the above-mentioned Vietnamese Iced Coffee, we’ve had some great Indian Food, found a new ice cream joint, and experienced… the consignment store.
The consignment store of which I speak has nothing whatsoever to do with either motherhood or writing (not that much of what goes on here does). In the spirit of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, it sells the high-end cast0ffs of (I speculate) Emory co-eds* and currently contains a pair of Kate Spade pumps for twenty-something bucks. The first time I dragged the Girleens into it (first Iced Coffee; the Vietnamese place is five doors down in the same strip mall) I looked, my second visit (second iced coffee, earlier today) I came in carrying a clutch of half a dozen coathangers bearing dresses I haven’t been able to zip myself into since the birth of my first child.
I’m not a person who usually waxes either nostalgic or rhapsodic over clothes, but one of those dresses was a Betsey Johnson number circa 1998. I bought it (on sale) soon after moving back to the States from Europe when two years of walking everywhere (we had no car while in Germany) whittled me down to a size one. Black silk shantung with a cheongsam cut; it fit like a glove. I wore it twice, quit smoking, and that’s all she wrote — it’s been hanging in the back of my closet ever since.
Actually, maybe I have waxed rhapsodic over clothes before — the leather jacket I purchased on layaway while in high school (coming in the vintage store where I bought it to visit “my” jacket weekly until I paid it off); the miniskirt I bought years later at the same vintage store, said by the person who brought it in to the store to have belonged to the wife of the owner of Capricorn Records around 1972) — but that was in another country, and besides, the kohl-eyed wench who wore those clothes is dead, at least figuratively speaking.
These days I’m just another mom in bermuda shorts and comfortable sandals, and most of the time, I’m fine with my status as such. I’ll never wear that Betsey Johnson dress again — so why was my last sight of it as I handed it across the consignment store counter the least bit wrenching?
I tried to keep the kids from wreaking havoc on the shoe display while the shopclerk priced the “goods”; I began to think about how humbling it would be if the store declined to consign anything I’d brought in.
— Cute clothes! the salesclerk chirped when I walked back to the counter. We’ll take them all.
Goodbye, Betsey Johnson dress. Goodbye, halter dess cut as befits Marilyn Monroe. Goodbye purple skirt with lime green (!) embroidery.
I walked out the door, a child holding each hand, disengaged one to slip my sunglasses back down on my nose. Who knew it could feel so good, to consign clothes? I felt cleansed and affirmed both. Cleansed, as if I’d just lightened my load. Affirmed —but why?
Motherhood is so much about blending in, it seems, and requires so much … toeing of the line. If anyone knows how to fade into the woodwork it’s a mother.
But it doesn’t hurt, to have it recognized now and then: once we were all birds of fine feather too, and young, and just learning to fly.
*What leads someone to sell their jewelry on consignment? I imagine love affairs gone sour.