sweaters and stray tumbleweeds

Sshhhhh. I know. I should be asleep. Don't worry; I will be. Soon.You can work out all you want, acknowledge the results, fight through the soreness that comes from the beginning of a weight training program, and tell yourself that you're really going to make it, but there's nothing quite like the leap of faith that comes from the closet. The day you decide to clean it out, that is.

Everyone who has gone through a major weight change knows it. It's the day you look in your closet and admit to yourself that you really can't wear most of the items you've got stashed away, and that perhaps it's time to start letting your friends ravage through your collection to see if there's anything they want to use.

I did that last week. I hadn't planned on doing it that particular day, but I opened up the closet to look for some item or another. I realized that most of the clothing in there would never be worn again by me, and that it was time to take a deep breath and


Shirts. A couple of skirts. Plenty of dresses. My comfortable black traveling dress, witness to many a solo flight: in the heap. My red silk fancy-events-in-summer dress? Gapes mightily if I bend forward. To the heap, as well. My lovely triumvirate (purple, blue, and green) business-class dresses? Off you go.

They all held memories of times and places worn, and part of me was terrified to pile them up, one by one, on the chair in the master bathroom.

Dear God, what if I fail? If I fail, I'll have nothing to wear, because I'm giving it all away.

It took me a few moments, and a few slow breaths, to admit the truth: it doesn't matter if I fail or not, because right now, I can't wear any of that clothing, anyway. Nevertheless, the admittance of a truth does not necessarily soften its blow.

I didn't get rid of everything. Not yet. I took out virtually all of my summer dresses, save two that were marginally salvageable, just in case some sort of formal event pops up on short notice this summer. The winter clothes I couldn't bear to touch, even though intellectually I know that any piece of clothing that's slightly baggy now will be just swimmingly large on me come wintertime.

* * * * *

This evening, before we headed out for our Tuesday night gathering, Jeff surveyed my outfit and said, "Now that you're not wearing such baggy shirts, I can really see differences." I'd pulled out a pair of denim shorts and a striped shirt I haven't worn since high school; how they managed to survive past Goodwill pogroms is a mystery to me. What were once embarrassing remnants of a thinner time are now greatly-appreciated pieces of clothing that will help keep my clothing budget down for a few more months.

I'd been thinking about maybe hitting up a few thrift stores sometime soon, but Jeff's comment clinched it. While I have jeans and shorts and bras enough to keep me in clothing for a while longer, albeit with little variety, my selection of shirts and skirts meander between scanty and nonexistent.

Monica suggested treating it like dress-up; to ignore my notions of what I "should" and "shouldn't" wear, because a lot of those ideas are going to be thrown out the window as my body continues to change. It's the best idea I've heard so far. Terrifying, but best.

I figure this: I'll go to the thrift stores while I'm in Atlanta this weekend, and poke around a bit. Find a few items I'm willing to try. I won't spend much money on them at all, and I'll get a chance to perhaps try out some new colors, some new ideas, in how to dress. If it works, great. If not, I'll still be going to the gym every day, and eventually I'll have to replace these clothes with even smaller ones, and we can forget the fashion faux pas and move on.

* * * * *

Knowing the temporary nature of whatever new clothing I buy makes it no less difficult to make the leap of faith and empty my closet of everything but sweaters and a stray tumbleweed or two. Too many years on the wrong end of the size spectrum will teach you to hoard your clothes carefully, because it may be months or years before you find anything else you're able and willing to wear.

I have to trust that as my size changes, that, too, will change. There will be another red dress, another black skirt that goes with everything, another reliable blue dress to get me through any restaurant dinner and lovely sweaters that dress up with skirts or down with jeans. Eventually I'll wonder how I did without those clothes instead of these, and I'll be grateful for the work I did to get from here to there.

I already know that the end will justify these means, but it makes me no less human to open my closet and see its newfound emptiness as a yawning, terrifying symbol of how much I'm trying to change about my life.

There's no going back. There never was.
I've just made it official, that's all.

Sweaters, anyone?

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