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The Cape

The cape has hung in the spare bedroom closet the past decade along with other items mom passed along to me. Whether for safe keeping or in hopes I will single-handedly resurrect past fashions I am not sure.  I don’t remember the specific day mom gave me these discarded items but I am sure it was with a shrug she told me she was cleaning out her closet and wondered if I wanted these ‘old things’ collected through her travels: a dress purchased in Mexico city in the 60’s, a leather skirt from Spain and this reversible cape purchased in London when labels read Burberry’s not shortened to Burberry as they do today. I wish when she had handed me these pieces I had asked for the story each one held.

I use to play dress up in this cape as a child. With the plaid wool lining kept well hidden from my pray, the black rainy weather side was perfect for dashing about the house as Count Dracula. I love how objects can unleash memories. I close my eyes and picture my mother in her black heals, iconic bob hair cut styled to perfection, the scent of Shalimar swirling in her wake as she heads out for an evening with dad, this very cape draped over her shoulders. This cape hung forgotten until this past fall when I started eyeing capes  in magazines as the latest fashion must have. Keep something long enough it must surely come back into vogue!

It is oddly warm and rainy this winter, not at all like a typical January, this feels more like early March. I decide to venture out in the cape, take it for a spin, see if I still feel like I am playing dress up in my mother’s clothing. Yep, sure enough, I do. Does everyone who slips on something that belonged to their parent feel like an impostor trying to fill impossible shoes or is this just me? Why do we hang on to clothing collected from markets around the globe long after there is any hope we will wear them again? Along with the items left by mom that hang in the spare closet hangs an ill-fitting leather jacket I purchased in Italy in a style long since fashionable with very little hope I will ever wear it again…so why do I hang on to it?