Photo: Lauren Hagerstrom
Not long ago I discovered my mother’s ice skates hidden behind sweaters in my closet. It was a sentimental moment for me that brought me back to the time I learned how to skate – with these very skates. My mother grew up in The Bronx, a native New Yorker. She remembers owning these skates in her early 20’s and taking them to Wollman Rink in the heart of Central Park. I remember that I was also in my early 20’s when I tried them on for the first time. I remember wrapping my ankles in heavy socks to keep myself from wobbling (I think someone had recommended that), and then experimenting as I tried to stand up without falling. There was, of course, much falling, but I will never forget the sheer joy of finally getting myself up on the ice. Sheer. Joy. I remember skating around and around and around the rink for what seemed like hours.
Shoes, or in this case – skates – carry memories. They tell the story of our lives. Finding my mother’s skates, something that she had worn and loved, gave my story more meaning. I am waiting for it to warm up, but I am ready to bring out my mother’s skates once again!
Photo by Lauren Hagerstrom
There is a reality to my life: every moment, every day, every event – comes down to one question … what shall I wear? I dress for work – what shall I wear? I am invited to a party – what shall I wear? I take a college tour with my younger son – what shall I wear? I move my older son to college – what shall I wear? Small moments – big moments – all moments of my life – I am thinking about what to wear. It’s never been about shopping for the clothes. It’s about self expression and telling the story of my life and who I am in the world. Clothes are the way I do it. And eventually, these very choices will become my memories.
Jean’s gift to me, her dramatic black hat
It started with a message that my dear friend and next door neighbor, Jean, had passed away. A week later I was forced to put my darling cat Willie to sleep after he stopped responding to his medications. And last week I got the devastating news that Cheryl, my beloved sister-in-law, had unexpectedly lost her mother, Charmaine. It has been a painful time for me and for my family and I am having a hard time processing these losses. What I have been doing is gathering memories of them close to me like precious treasures.
My friend Jean was very stylish and we would often share stories about clothes and fashion trends from her days working in New York City. She had a subscription to Harper’s Bazaar and kept the back issues in her front hallway so that I could see them clearly when I entered her house. Not only did Jean save the magazines, but she saved her clothes and cared for them lovingly. Not long before Jean died she gave me her over-the-top black hat from Ann Taylor (that I think she wore to an outdoor garden party). It is very different from anything I wear but I love owning a bit of Jean and find myself thinking about wearing it someday to my own elegant party. In that moment I will think of Jean and smile – as I do with everyone so dear to me whom I have lost recently – in loving memory …