Standing stark naked in front of my closet this morning, I had to make a choice. How did I opt to present myself to the world today? I pushed back hangers looking at my wardrobe, stopping occasionally to speculate what was going on in my mind when I traded hard earned currency for a piece of cloth no bigger than a handkerchief. Front and centre was my ‘exclusive’ hoody and sweat pant collection. Heavily laundered and stretched to unidentifiable form, this was my usual dress code. Comfort. For a brief moment I fondled the velvet and lace gown and recalled the night, the dance and the arms that held me when I last wore the dress. It was silly of me to keep this relic in the closet. It made far more sense to pack it up and donate it to Goodwill. Perhaps another woman could do the tango and wrap herself in romance…
In the far corner was my jean jacket, still decorated with the pass that allowed me back stage at the Springsteen concert. Man that was my fiftieth birthday, for God’s sakes! Am I really that old that I continue to store memories and use real estate to harbour old clothes?
I stopped taking pictures just about the time that the digital age broke into a trot. There was a time when I carried a disposable camera (yes, once upon a time that too was inventive) around in my purse, but overnight, or so it seemed, pictures began to arrive via e-mail instead of envelopes. It was no longer necessary for me to capture the moment on film. Everybody was a photographer.
It was this reliance on outside ‘help’ that pictures became unnecessary. My Kodak moments were stored in my heart and my brain. I could conjure up the feelings by simply pausing to reflect.
I was gorgeous—coifed, perfumed, primped and primed, I was the woman who wore that gown. I was the aging philosopher who ate ballads for breakfast and trifled with poetry for dessert.
I threw on a track suit—to hell with the bra—and sat down to write. Translating the emotion, allowing readers to tap into their own memories, identifying with the emotion through words--remains the challenge. Every writer, expecting an audience, or a kindred spirit, must stand naked in front of their closet.
I could remember the candles, the scent of lavender from the bubbles in my bath as I prepared for an evening a very long time ago. Every aspect of the night is etched in my psyche. If someone presented me with a picture, a catalogued presentation of the way I looked that day, likely as not, my reaction might have been as imaginative as the grey track suit I’m wearing. The touch of velvet changed my perspective.
A writer must evoke the senses. In doing so, they will harvest the passion.