I gutted my closet this weekend. I took out all of the old sweaters and casual shirts with birds and boats on them. I took down the coats with holes in the sleeves. I threw away the floral shirts with wide collars. I marveled that I had ever been the kind of optimistic person who thought I might one day be skinny enough to wear these clothes, or okay enough with my body looking like a bell jar when squeezed into ungiving wool. I think facing one’s closet can be depressing because it’s full of all those dropped aspirations. Lives you once had and lives that totally failed to materialize. It’s a palimpsest of the past, present, and the future. A closet tells you all the ways you’ve let yourself down.
I initially only meant to make a little bit of space for my new fleeces and corduroy trousers. But I saw this one boxy plaid button-down that had hung in my closet in Alabama, and then Madison, and now Iowa City. It had followed me like a really ingrained bad habit. I took it down and said, You know what, you’re out of here. Then came its twin, a shirt identical to the first except in white. Then came the flannels I’d bought last year but which never fit right. Down came the coats with the weird button, sweaters that smelled dusty and made creaky sounds when stretched, sweaters I had accidentally shrunk last year, more bad prints. I had bought all of these clothes in a giddy rush. Thinking, oh this will look great, this will be great, but here they’d hung unused and unneeded, taking up space, reminding me of my neglect.
I piled them into a large garbage bag and left the bag in the middle of my kitchen. I couldn’t take them out to the trash because it rained all weekend. It cleared on Monday, but I had things to do. I meant to do it today, but I have a headache. As you can see, I love to make excuses, to find reasons to delay taking an irrevocable action. I’ll do it. I’ll let you know how it goes. Lift it over my shoulder and lug it out to the barrels on the side of the house. A little like disposing of a body.
The fleeces look great though, all hung up and ready for when the weather breaks and sweater weather begins in earnest. I’m going to buy a couple of flannels to go with the fleece vest. I have quite a lot of sweaters, actually, but I do need to replace my lambswool one. I’m thinking of getting a green sweater. It’s rare to find clothes in my size in actual color. After a certain size, color disappears. Fit disappears. We’re doomed to billowy, boxy whites and blacks. It’s hard to find something austere, something beautiful, something in a good, solid color, something with fight, light, energy. That’s why I buy two of everything I find that I like. That’s why I wear my clothes to death, because they feel charged with something powerful. Finding an article of clothing that feels good on my body is like stumbling upon Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead--a reordering of the fundamental forces of the universe. A mundane miracle.
Anyway, I am pleased about my fall staples. I’ll get some flannels. An Oxford or two. Maybe get some hard-soled shoes. Thick socks. My specific aesthetic goal is dress like a graduate student whose French professor invites them to stay with her husband in Connecticut after a horrifying break up with a faculty member, and when you arrive at her home, you find out that her husband is funny and gentle and left-handed and well-dressed. And then, she has to leave for a couple of days to do city things, but she’ll be back soon, and oh no, you are suddenly alone with him. In my mind, her husband is played by Stanley Tucci.
Stanley Tucci definitely belongs to that strain of East Coast distant but loving father figure who sometimes drinks a little too much and is beset at night by the common worries of living in a materialist capitalist society. He definitely seems like the kind of man who makes jokes over a dinner that he cooks with his wife, and you sit at their table marveling at how beautiful and wealthy their family is, but also, there’s a moment during the dinner where he winks at you and you wonder what that’s about, and later, you see him sitting by the pool in shorts and no shirt, but the pool is heated because it’s like, late October in Connecticut, so it’s cool, but not frigid yet, and he says something sweet and sad about it almost being the last swim of the season and you kind of laugh and repeat that word back to him season, and he kind of frowns, but then he laughs too, and says I get it, I get it, where I’m from, there are no seasons, and you say, No, yeah, like, I didn’t mean it that way, and he says, You did, but that’s okay, and he slides into the water and does the backstroke and you kind of admire his body but then find yourself admiring it so you look away, and he asks you to hand him a towel even though it’s right there and well within reach, but you do it, and he holds on to it, and you hold on to it, and there’s like, a towel between you, and he says Thanks and you can kind of smell the Brandy from dinner, and you say, Okay, and you go to pull away, but he tugs on the towel, and suddenly, wow, you are in proximity and you say something dumb like, You’re warm, and he just kind of smirks at you as he wraps the towel around his hsoulders and says, Heated pool. And when he leaves, you think about how he said that Heated pool, and you think about it all night, and you’re just lying there on their scratchy guest sheets, Heated pool, heated pool, heated pool, and the next morning, his wife leaves to go back to the city, and she says, Have fun, behave! and she says that she’ll be back in a couple of days, and he seems genuinely sad that she’s leaving, and this both makes you like him more and hate him at the same time, and she says to you, and this gives you chills, Look after him. He’s hopeless. And you say, Sure thing, and you hope that she doesn’t see right through you but of course she does because she’s the smartest person you know and you really shouldn’t be doing this, and it feels like a betrayal since she invited you to her house to stay after the really bad break up with so and so, whose name you can’t even bring yourself to think, and you repay her by looking at her husband in his quite too small swimming trunks in the middle of the night, and you hug her, and there are tears in your eyes, and she thinks you’re just grateful, but what you’re really crying about is how you desperately you hope you don’t make a horrible mistake even though you know you will because it’s inevitable, like the turn of the seasons, and when she lets you go, she wipes your tears and says, Hang in there. It’ll get easier.
A picture of a young Stanley Tucci circulated the internet a couple of weeks ago, the one where he’s in denim and a white shirt, and his arms look like they could crack boulders. He’s wearing some blasé expression that isn’t not self-satisfaction. To say that he is hot in this picture is to almost miss the point. Yes, Stanley Tucci is hot. Yes. He is attractive. But there’s something more, too. A kind of solidity that goes beyond mere hot and I would sleep with you. It’s not even just sex appeal. There’s something about Stanley Tucci that makes you want to totally disrupt your life and risk it all, at a moment’s notice. Like, you just want him to take you into his arms and tell you all the ways that you’ve disappointed him. Like, you want him to throw you against a wall and say, You’re going to make it up to me, aren’t you? Maybe that’s just me. Anyway. Stanley Tucci is great.
I hope sweater weather reaches you soon, wherever you are. I hope your week goes well. See you Thursday.