Mar 7, 2021

The Fabric of Our Lives

This was well received by my writers group. Offered for your approbation.

The Fabric of Our Lives

Red dress. Black organza blouse. Pink ski jacket. Black minidress. Colors are meaningless. Fabrics are inconsequential. What I see is New Year’s Eve at the Hyatt. Valentine’s Day at Terzo Piano. The soft curves of her body, arching and shuddering as we lay, sprawled in front of the glowing ski lodge’s fire, warming each other as only long-time lovers can do.

As I gathered another armload of her clothing, my heart, literally, wept. It was as if I was scooping up a memory with each and every garment. I had never looked at clothing in such an intimate manner. I quickly became aware of the cachet that accompanied each and every item. I remembered the laugh we would share as the Christmas Victoria’s Secret catalogue would arrive every November addressed to me. I remember the discussions regarding the hemline, the bodice, the style of a dress I had spent too much on but earmarked for that special New Year’s Eve at the Hyatt or Excalibur, where we were, without a doubt, the oldest couple in the house.

She was beautiful, but she could never, with the classic modesty of all truly beautiful people, admit it to herself. It was an exclusive club she belonged to, without knowing that she was a charter member. I would have given anything to convince her of that quality I cherished so much. Physical beauty wasn’t her only source of charisma. She cared about people. Visiting our friends, many of them older than we were, who were in failing health, buying little gadgets to make their life easier. A can/jar/bottle opener for our dear friend who could no longer open some jars, a key fob for someone who was always losing her keys. Little items but cherished, I am sure. Visits to a shut-in, dinner afterwards for a stressed-out caregiver.

All of these qualities resided within her. But I was most proud to be the one attribute she always found a way to deny. Her physical attractiveness. I loved to be the one to engineer her into a dress she thought too short, it wasn’t. A blouse she thought too shear, it wasn’t. A new lipstick that was too red, Paloma Picasso’s was my favorite and it suited her perfectly. Although she was not pleased to find out the price, which she did when she needed a refill from Marshall Field’s.

But these memories are but that. Each stirred by an item. As I gradually empty closets and shoe racks, I am returned to a time, a place, a restaurant, a party, an evening culminating in a passionate expression of our love and dedication to each other. Valentine’s Day, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, my birthday, her birthday, our anniversary, which she insisted on paying for, by the way. That usually meant a trip to Oakbrook and another item of apparel probably more to my taste than hers.

Clothing isn’t just a covering of one’s physical form. It is the very essence of who we are. Sexy party dress, seductive demi-cup bra, scooped-neck blouse, snug jeans (she had a great ass), the souvenir tee that was purchased at the shop off the European marketplace, the hat the Aussie mate insisted on buying because she never, ever wore hats unless cajoled and, under the blazing Sydney sun, hats were a necessity. He was a great person, a perfect stranger and we shared a pint, which he also insisted on buying.

Clothing. Memories, grief, and yes, joy, as I remember the all-to-brief time we had together, as well as the tremendous experiences we shared. Memories. Nothing is more poignant, more gratifying, more heart-wrenching, than the memories. They brought past reveries, promises of a future now unattainable, yearning for the soft nestling that eventually led to the stroking, caressing foreplay of ultimate passion. I remember the disagreements, too short, too sheer, too much cleavage. But even as she aged, gracefully, she was often mistaken for someone 20 years her junior. And I reveled in her sensuality, her appeal, her appearance. We celebrated that with an intimacy few other people can aspire to.

The dresses piled up, the glittery camisoles, the pencil skirts. Every one a memory, but nothing I wanted to see on another. The thought of that was repugnant. Abhorrent. A few dresses went back into the corner of the closet, their memories too vivid to discard. Yet too painful to keep. The DKNY one-shouldered mini that peeled off on the still-fresh in my mind New Year’s Eve to reveal the unspoiled body, the swelling breasts, the trim patch beneath the brief panties. The Italian designer dress that was destined for the coming celebration, but would never be worn, her passing a tragic end to the longtime tradition of celebrating the years’ passing.

The red sheer-bodice dress bought for a not-forgotten Valentine’s Day. The succulent meal at Terzo Piano, the night spent at the posh hotel, the complimentary champagne that flowed after midnight, its’ bubbly effervescence trickling across an eager body, its’ sweetness mixing with her own cachet, the languid morning after.

Clothes, memories, loves, all intertwined, never to forgotten. Life would go on. It would, however, never be the same.

Thomas Schildhouse
MPHS Jan 66


A powerful, poignant, passionate piece of prose. My compliments. You paint technicolor pictures with words.

Marie Buti

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