I have this one dress I love. It’s a tealy/turquoise nineteen forties style dress with cap sleeves. It has a thin tan buckled belt. It wasn’t expensive but it’s good quality fabric and a good fit (when I’m not a heifer from Dan Garvey’s farm like I am now). It’s such a “me dress”, my kind of style. But I can’t bring myself to wear it: I wore it to two weddings with Berger and when I glimpse it on the hanger I just see us in my favourite picture of us, fairly pissed, well into the dancing at his uncle’s nuptuals, him in his shirt and tie, me in the dress.
Funny, how certain clothes become a tangible path into your past.
I have a cardigan my mother sent me in a parcel: wrapped up in a bundle of four warm, chunky charity shop finds (she is some woman for the second hand and bargain hauls), an old Massive Discount Grocer plastic bag as its packaging with a piece of coloured paper taped to it providing the name address of its recipient: her broke, frozen daughter, studying away in the city with not a penny to her name and a high ceilinged, centralheatingless flat as shelter. This was during the cold snap of 2010. The cardigan smelled of my mother’s perfume. It was about five months after I shut up shop in my hometown and moved ElsaDaughter and I up here. I was at a low ebb, beginning to regret what had really been the first conscious solo decision of my life. I opened it, sat on the stairs and cried tears of everything into the Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue scented woollies. I needed my Mammy.
Do you remember what you were wearing when…? I remember what I was wearing the day I was rushed to hospital, mortified, in an ambulance with a bad concussion after a driftwood mirror fell on my head. It was a yellow and black top My Lady had just bought me: they needed to cut it open because of the neck brace for tests. I didn’t want them to.
I have so many clothes that My Lady has bought me. She’s always picking up bits for ElsaDaughter and me. Maybe I hate shopping so much because I don’t have to do it: My Lady the bargain hunter does all the work for me.
And she’s got good taste. I don’t think in my almost thirty four years I’ve seen my mother in the same outfit twice. And she has endless costume jewellery to match each day’s selection. I’ve also never seen her leave the house without make up on. No matter what brand of shit life throws at my ma she puts on her Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish and faces the music. I think I’m only starting to fully appreciate the stylish tower of strength she is.
I also have my wedding dress hanging up in my wardrobe. That reminds me of stick-on boob cups and champagne. Not of my husband. Strange that.
I wasn’t hungover yesterday, unbelievably. I was buzzing in the absence of the fear. Although gin seems to agree with me. If I drink wine I’m openly inviting bodily harm upon myself, such is the extent to which the vino disagrees with the contracting blood vessels in the migraine vicinity of my right temple. Puke, hurl, vom – all day and the next night. Wine’s a killer. Gin is no Mother’s Ruin for me and it doesn’t make me depressed, for which it has a reputation. Maybe if you’re already depressed, gin actually counteracts the sad/angry/psychotic hormones because with a few gins in me, I’m deadly craic, or so I think. My mates might disagree. I do tell them how how; smart; lovely; kind; successful they are a lot more often and loudly than when I’m sober. But gin is truth syrup for me and they deserve to be reminded.
I have another dress that reminds me of a night out early in my relationship with Father Rory Best. He took me, oddly enough, out in the VillageintheCity where we now live. We had dinner, on a different night, in the restaurant next door to our current abode. Never did I think we’d end up living on the other side of the old walls. I remember buying that dress: it was a collection Madonna did for H&M (no pointy corset, promise) and it was fifty Euro. You know when there’s a new man on the scene and you go mad buying new date clothes and lingerie and body scrubs and you get yourself waxed to within an inch of your life? It was that stage of the romance, when it was still romantic and not “You’re a fucking dickhead, you selfish bastard!” stage. That came two weeks later. Just kidding, I can usually keep the honeymoon period going for a month before the crash and burn sets in.
I remember crossing the street, on a fine summer evening, him leading me by the hand to a pub where we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Get a fucking room. I’d be the first to mutter it. That dress was the new me. I was skinny, I was free of a crushing marriage, I was young again and I had found passion. The dress is now watermarked and terminally creased. #metaphor
The Rose of Tralee was out on Friday night, looking amazing fourteen weeks after having a baby. She put me to shame: I’ve had nearly fifteen years. She does a lot of walking and the results are as obvious as a perfectly filled pencil skirt. I used to do a lot of walking before I got into running. There was a time when every woman in the country was pounding the roads of an evening in briskly striding regiments of mothers, daughters, best friends, sisters, neighbours. My Lady and I used to go “round the town” which was a lap of the cemetery road and down the back way of the Main Street. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Then, everyone became obsessed with running, which we used to call “jogging”, in my day. I felt I wasn’t working out unless I ran and consequently I fucked up my knee to the point that getting up stairs, especially in heels, is a real moan inducer. Posh can attest to this. On Friday night, we did the typical women going to pee in pairs: one Ladies’ was up a not particularly steep stairs. Everytime we had to empty the gin/wine/cocktail/pints-of-water-for-the-hangover mixtures from our post-baby bladders she heard me creak, “Oh,me fuckin” knee”. Also, as much as I love running – I credit it with saving me from utter scissors despair on many an occasion – I just can’t get into it lately. I tried, a while back, you might remember, but then I got scared of it again. No, I have no idea why I’m afraid of running or what’s stopping me. There’s some mental block against it and with the fear comes inaction and with inaction comes… Oh, we all know how this goes. So I thought I’d try walking again. And I bloody loved it. I was still sweaty when I got back but not beetrooted like the unfit post-run hue of late and my arse and hamstrings were seriously stiff today. Moreso than after a run: maybe I’ve been using the same running muscles for too long and the other ones need a stretch?
I think I used to call muscles “puzzles” when I was a kid; I got a lot of words wrong: bodes well for an English grad. I couldn’t pronounce “re” words either so “relax”; “religion” and “relation” became “You need to lerax, Mammy!; “Why are all my lerations so weird, Mammy?” and “Lerigion is stupid, Mammy”. I was an opinionated kid: always asking my poor Mammy awkward questions. She never lost it with me, just encouraged the “Who Can Be Silent The Longest” game or stuffed food in my gob to shut me up. No wonder she threw that Lasagne at me.
I felt kind of guilty, like a cheat, out waking, rather than running. The old “Should Be” reared its ugly head. I should be running, walking is the easy way out. But I went again today and took Sven. I went because I wanted to, not because I thought I should and I didn’t feel guilty for not running. I just felt better after it.
Today I felt a bit sad. Fleetingly, I had a moment of wanting to cut. Not out of any great panic or gloom but out of a kind of numbness that took hold. That could have been during the hour I was sorting laundry though, can’t get much more mind numbing than that banality. But the intensity is gone from the depths of that feeling and I distracted myself with a podcast about World War I. That soon put injury and suffering into context.
Being single at Christmas is odd. It’s not terrible, it’s just strange for me. I’m linking this directly to gift buying. I love to give presents. I hate the buying of them. I don’t make a song and dance about Christmas shopping because I usually get it done in a couple of hours in a one stop shop like Avoca. I can’t understand people who start in October and I’m sick up to my mince pies of being asked “Are you all set for Christmas?” If, by that question, you want to know if I’m ready to lounge in my grandad’s chair by the fire (it’s still his chair, even though he’s been dead for twenty years in March), drink gin and have the bants with the fam, then yes, I’m all over it. If you mean have I spent a month’s wages on shit people don’t want that will end up being “regifted” into some other poor unsuspecting fucker’s junk drawer, then no.
And anyway, this year there is no funding available for fancy soaps and men’s manicure sets. So I’ve decided to make something for those dear to me. I’ll post about them when they’re done. If they’re any good.
I’d like to finish tonight on my absolute all time favourite item to wear: the Aran jumper my Nana knit for my grandad. It must be thirty five years old. It’s the warmest thing you could ever put on you: you might as well be wearing what Little Bo Peep lost. When I put it on, the Old Gent is there, “Sail her aisy there”, I hear him say. And that’s what I have to do, take it easy, walk before I can run.