Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Closet Memories

Today I cleaned out my closet. Well, not all of it, mainly the jambalaya etouffé of accessories that monopolized a handful of shelves, and by that I mean the carelessly shoved free-for-all of baskets, boxes, hats, boots, belts and tangles of costume jewelry strewn about with sewing materials, not to mention running sneakers (as opposed to "walking" or "funky" sneakers), that have accumulated over the years. And by years I don't just mean the 9 in this house. Some of this stuff dates back to the, er, 80s. Lifetimes ago.

The clothes? That's a whole other project. Considering I've been in and out of 4 pregnancies over the last 6 years, I have been hoarding sizes--from 6 all the way to 16-- determined to return back to them one day like some tantalizing unrequited lover. For now they'll just have to wait. I'll get through those another day.

Today (or yesterday, actually) it felt good to go through, edit, arrange and organize my things. The loose accessories jammed into odd places. Why had it taken me so long to put like with like? Had I become disrespectful of my belongings? I began to take down the clutter and arrange all the hats together on one shelf (does anyone still wear a hat?), the boots on another, large totes and shoulder bags up there, smaller dressy clutches under there, and the jewelry at eye level. Crazy, dusty, tarnished, jewelry spilling out of mismatched baskets, bowls and boxes… empires were built and destroyed inside these boxes.

Remember the stacks of skinny black rubber bangles and matching hoops Madonna made famous during her "Lucky Star" days? We both found them on the streets of New York way back when, mine fading and beginning to decompose. Or the dangling spider and spiderweb earrings I bought after a gig at CBGBs. How about the intentional lopsidedness of a 6" dangling chandelier earring on one side worn with a stud on the other, or am I dating myself here?

Then came the crystal phase…rose quartz, lapis, carnelian, amethyst and blood-rich garnet…

And pearls….ropes and ropes of pearls. I adored pearls back then…gaudy clusters, glitzy chokers and single elegant strands. Pearls, wrapped around my wrist or slung around my hips, or
worn cascading dangerously all the way down a backless back.

And, not to be out-shined by a patron…(Wayne used to say "the singer should always be overdressed" assisting me with his knack for picking outfits and accessories, never mind that we were playing bars in Brooklyn, Long Island, or the surrounding boroughs)...rhinestones.

Dripping in rhinestones. Rhinestones and more rhinestones, dahling. A chick singer's staple. Rhinestones with a black cocktail dress, rhinestones with a mini skirt, rhinestones sewn onto a top, rhinestones with jeans and a mens suit jacket. Rhinestones = instant glam. Sparkle. A poor girl's affluence. Cocktail anyone? Make mine a Manhattan.
With brandy. Straight up.

One of the next things I did was take down both my blue suede and my fancy brown and black "shit-kicker" cowboy boots I got in Nashville while living in Kentucky. Although it was a shift from my Manhattan heels, back there you could wear your cowboy boots with jeans, with shorts, with leggings, with a skirt, hell you could wear 'em with pretty much anything…silk boxer shorts and a white wife-beater… except not so much when it rained it turns out.

Stroking my faded blue suede boots, ripped and trashed though they were along the sides, the toe, the sole, I'm cruising through the back roads of Kentucky, music thumping, transported to Austin TX, hanging with CC Adcock and young Doyle Bramhall, Stevie Ray Vaughn's rhythm section who became part of Arc Angels, and then Storyville with Malford Milligan. I'm having a mango margarita at Fonda San Miguel, a Makers on the rocks at Antones, raw oysters and an Abita beer at Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, chasing music and players across the south, my boots steady, my abs taut and my silver crosses dangling. I was free.

In those days I only needed 8" of lycra -infused material to cling to my A cups and chiseled abs. Add a g-string, the black Betsey Johnson mini that came round the bend and glued to mid-thigh, my boots,
and I was good to go. It wasn't the clothes, the jewelry. The power was in my body, determined, on fire, self-sufficient, seeking union. The rest? Adornment.

With a wicked laugh I realize I'd need all that just to cover one boob these days. What was once exposed is long covered over, draped, hard flesh gone soft and abundant. Given to nurture. It's scandalous. Pathetic. Oh, the places I've been. The hands that have traced these curves, the lips that have searched for nectar, the dusty trails long abandoned for sureness, for belonging, new creation.

Deciding to retire the blue ones, I slip into my fancy brown "here-comes-troubles" with the contrasting black wingtips and red underlay detail. I struggle a little getting them on. They haven't been worn in years. Maybe a dozen. Maybe more. But as the leather warms to my feet, we are indeed a fit. Foot to sole, sole to earth, earth to soul, past present future paths abound and collide.

I see the girl but she's not me, not now. Hair flowing, eyes twinkling, boundless magnetism, laughing, drinking, hard yet soft at the same time but in different places, places to be opened, discovered. Her beauty is more than lips, than hair, but beauty born of feeling, of pain, of knowing, of yearning, of longing to connect.

Cupless, nipples hardening, there's nothing to restrain them as they rub against soft cotton. From a simple touch, pleasure. Your fingers tracing my belly, stoking my fires, ripples quake throughout my body. Blood courses, racing to the point, beyond music, pulsing, throbbing. Lace triangle moistens as the coil of kundalini rises, aching for entrance… tongue circling, circling, take me, take all of me, fill me…just…be…with…

…all goes white…

…forms vanish…


…water flows underneath.

…already a little death…



I might wear these again.

A loving stroke of mink oil revitalizes the dusty skin. These are just lovely… reminders of my past…boots made for walking… no, commanding my path.

Markers in time are these closet memories…
a trail of precious diamonds
perhaps real or was it make-believe...
cut, glistening, then abandoned
laid with blood, with semen, and drops of saltwater...
I take my things and go.

Jewels scattered then collected
hidden, silent
Treasures layered in dust and disarray.

I take my memories down today one by one off the shelf, examining my long ago and far away.
Fingering my stories, touching the pieces of me, honoring the girl I used to be, a part of me lost, a part of me found, lifetimes away yet entirely here, this time they're laid out with reverence and care.

Ed note:
Did I really want to go there?

The answer, although uncomfortable, is yes, absolutely. I have never written this type of explicit depiction before but the piece begged me to go there, far from my comfort zone, evocative, sensual, intimate in its exposure. As a writer I hoped to depart from safety and journey into provocative, emotionally rich territory. Dangerous to step out and expose oneself…but there it is…I felt it and I took the risk.


kario said...

I had great fun reading this post! It was like getting to play dress up in my 30s. I adore the blue suede 'shit kickers' and am proud of you for being able to get rid of anything - I couldn't part with them if it were me.

Nancy said...

Wow, if I could go there by cleaning a closet I might never come out! Surely I'd have the cleanest closets in town! Beautiful and exciting to read!

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