September 25, 2018

I wear my hurts like layers of clothing

I wear my hurts like layers of clothing, each piled on top of another, like I would if I were trying to protect myself from the bitter cold. Sometimes without realizing it, I peel them off….one by one. Each is a reminder of a pain I have experienced. Each serves as something that puts a bit of distance between me and the rest of the world. 

The most outer layer is a Ruff Hewn coat, with wooden toggle closures. Scratchy and woolen just like the one my mom had in the 80s. It is dark, in mingled shades of brown, black and rust with a few touches of dark green in the fabric. The coat looks very similar to one worn by Jackie on the sitcom Roseanne, which as a kid I thought was cool because I had rarely seen anyone on television with clothes that looked like ours. 

The next layer is a trendy designer sweater, purchased for my biological father by the only one of his girlfriends I ever liked. She was a tiny woman named Linda, who had no kids and bought all her clothes at Petite Sophisticate. My dad was hard to shop for and he’d spend what felt to me like hours at the department store, trying to find a suitable replacement for all the gifts he immediately exchanged.

Then there’s a white cotton turtleneck, decorated with penguins playing winter sports. The same one I wore to have my school picture taken in the 7th grade. Before heavy metal braces painfully forced my eye-teeth down into the line with the others, out of their tusk-like formation. 

Under that I wear a thin long-sleeved cashmere tee. It feels luxurious, its ivory layer against my skin. It makes me feel rich, until I see the small holes along the hem and remember it came from the thrift store. I wonder about the wealthy lady who bought it new and discarded it, without an inkling of me. 

And beyond this is a ribbed black cotton tank top, bought for something like $4 at Old Navy when that was my very favorite place to shop, c. 1998. I cut one of the straps, and fastened it back together on my shoulder with a row of shiny silver safety pins, to give it a little edge. 

Finally, under all the other layers, I wear my first bra. The one with the built in shoulder pads that my mom said would look better under my clothes. It was fine until I wore it to a slumber party and then everyone decided to run around the yard in our bras and underwear. I was the only one with shoulder pads flapping in the breeze against the dark night sky.