I woke to a morning when nothing seems right. Not even my favorite sweater feels good. I instantly rip it off, then slide into an oversized t-shirt, next a brightly colored blouse, then reluctantly go back to the sweater.

Do men experience days like these? Or is this solely women’s territory? Does this odd behavior indicate an identity crisis? Or is it just “closet fog”? I’ve decided this ritual must serve some purpose or another; otherwise we wouldn’t voluntarily torture ourselves, would we?

My mood troubles me and I have learned that when my emotions take over the best way out is to dig a little deeper, and so I do. Literally. I push aside a few hangers and lean further into the closet in search of something.

I find the leatherette gym bag I carried in high school sitting on a shelf just out of reach, now a pale lavender instead of the rich purple it was in 1977. I smile and place it within view. The shoulders of my letter jacket hang dusty and faded, yet this coat boasts of a time when I was strong, athletic, and very naive.

My fingers brush against the sequins and fringe of the clothes I wore onstage several years ago. I feel a tug and know I’m not ready to give them up. My excuse? They’re too expensive to replace, so will leave them where they are just in case I decide to join a band.

I quickly shove aside my golf shirts and pull out ski pants, masks and scarves, adding those to the donation pile.

I don’t give up easily, but dig further into the shadows until my fingertips touch a familiar stretchy bit of fabric trimmed with leather. My riding pants. That which connects me to the saddle, to my horse, my equine companion I no longer have. One leather is more worn at the knee than the other.

Suddenly I know what I’ve been searching for. I can see a notable (and glaring truth). I can see ME. Then and Now.

My instructor was correct after all — I rode unbalanced in my seat. And it’s true, I struggle to stay balanced, to live in harmony with myself. On this cold, foggy morning in January, I hold the evidence, proof of this struggle.

It was a sobering moment, this folding and unfolding of my life; yet there it was in plain view, an almost complete picture. Not the earliest years of infancy, but the early years of adulthood: the young mother, the wife, teacher, the aging athlete, the equestrian, the performer.

Each of them alive in this heap. That 18 yr-old tomboy is still there. She grabs the worn out sneakers, the sloppy jeans, and t-shirt. Every. Single. Time.

And her counterpart, that soon to be 57 year-old woman?

She’s relieved and her body softens. She knows the pile of dresses, skirts, and tight jeans, the lizard boots, party heels, and basketball sneakers are just clothes and shoes she’ll never wear.


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Photo by Ryan McGuire, www.gratisography.com