what i wore, a mountain of life, and missing nora ephron
Last night, my best friend and I went to see the enchanting and poignant Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Nora and Delia Ephron's stage-adaptation of Ilene Beckerman's book by the same name. Like each of the five women on stage, I can peer in my wardrobe and hang on the clothes and shoes and handbags bulging from it, some of the most important moments of my life. Oh, and all my boots. There are my favorite brown leather boots with the beautiful patina, worn with an attitude the morning I was fired by someone who might possibly have been great were it not for the misogyny that made him so small. Admittedly, it was not the best way to start a day, but I have to say it gave me a certain pleasure to turn on the heel of those well-worn boots and walk away from him. Forever. Then there are the boots made of patchwork leather that my mother gave me; they make me feel like Carly Simon in anticipation of a date with Cat Stevens circa 1971. There are the boots I wore the first time we took Sophie to see the snow, the classic Frye boots that I simply could not pass up because they were on sale, the pointy-toed suede boots that have been re-soled twice and require additional assistance and effort to remove from tired and swollen feet at the end of a long day, and lots of black boots varying only in length. For those of you in cooler climes, there is perhaps a sixty day window for boot-wearing in Phoenix, Arizona. Seriously. Given the relentless sunshine, I offer no justification for the boot collection. Nor can I explain all the coats, each one purchased in Ireland and carried back to one of the hottest places in America, where there is rarely the need for a sweater let alone a coat - other than to make a statement about how the heat won't stop me from being my own girl, complete with scarf and coat, and even a turtleneck underneath. During the Christmas holidays, I always wear the long red coat I bought at Marks and Spencers one year in Belfast. I don't care if it is 80 degrees; that coat is a stunner particularly against the backdrop of a holiday tree made from pots of jolly red poinsettias outside Saks Fifth Avenue at the Biltmore Fashion Park. Hiding in a corner of the closet is a pair of burgundy leather penny loafers - with a penny in each. I haven't worn them since 1989. Why are they there? I don't know. Perhaps they are the American equivalent of the brogues we wore to school or Irish dancing, or maybe I was just influenced by the fashion choices of a fifth-grade American girl wearing khakis from the Gap, white socks, and her grandmother's loafers.
Given where I am this morning, still 50, still with cancer and still with nothing to wear to work, having already flung on the bed seven summery skirts that are too snug at the waist because of a diet that has deteriorated in recent months (too many nights out at the movies with my best friend) and an abandoned exercise regimen. I feel a bit like Meryl Streep's married character getting ready for a New York city rendezvous with Robert de Niro's character, also married (to someone else) in the movie Falling in Love. In the end, a blue dress wins - as it always does. Come to think of it, I think Meryl settled on a blue shirt. In my case, however, it is the blue dress I am wearing in the profile picture on all my online spaces. Thus, if I encounter any of my Facebook friends today, they might think I have nothing else to wear. They would be right of course.
How I laughed and sighed, and even cried a little, as I recognized my mother, my daughter, my best friend, and myself in the stories that flew fast and furious from the stage last night - tales of highly sought-after and completely impractical designer handbags (which increase in size and price as we get older), the various layers of "slimming" apparel - in black, of course - high heels and high drama, bunions and ballet flats. (Incidentally, to her horror, my best friend's podiatrist had the gall to suggests shoes from The Walking Company as opposed to a shot of Cortisone for pain. In retaliation, she is seeing a new podiatrist next week to whom she will lie a little, saying that, yes, she has been wearing the custom orthotic so can she please have the shot, because she is NOT going to buy shoes from The Walking Company). She is in her prime, after all, but short, a petite woman who "needs" the height. In fact, at one point she had a million dollar idea to accommodate those concert-goers under 5"5" - the expand-a-fan has yet to make it big, but you never know. Then there were glimpses of all those things that, at some point, seemed so essential in a closet as well as all those unessential and unforgivable things we keep saying to our daughters "Are you going to go out in that?" or "What did you do to your hair?"