My roommate, Talia and I are pack rats by pedigree. Our respective ancestors hid cracked ceramic bells, bottle caps and pillboxes in their overcoats on the way to America—just in case.
This is a problem in a tiny New York apartment. We agonize over cleaning out our shared closet. Some may interpret our behavior as illogical miserliness. But there is more to it. The old, the loved, the hand-me-downs have a supernatural appeal. They’re pre-approved by past versions of us, collaborative.
For Talia and I the final step before sending anything out the door is to see if the other wants it, a comfortingly inefficient system.
Inside the latest brown bag of her discarded treasure is a soft blue skirt patterned with purple wildflowers. I last saw it on her in 1998, high school. I love it with the tenderness I have for my old teddy bear. I’m also mesmerized by it’s a-line above-the-knee cut and simple feminine beauty. Plus, floral is very of-the-moment. I can make it work, but how? I hold it close, stuffing an old cardigan into the bag in its place, a spatial sacrifice.
At the drummer’s I spot a magazine called YOU—the weekend supplement to the London Daily Mail. His globetrotting roommate, Jim, picked it up at the airport. Intrigued, I tear into it. Mimi Spencer, a glib fashion columnist, smirks back at me knowingly with the headline “Badass Blooms.”
“The very best way to wear florals this season is to be mean to them,” she writes. “Add hardcore shoes, coloured tights, goth eyes, a leather jacket.” Yes.
The next day I scoop up the black leather, many-buckled Gaulla by Nine West. I shove them, two-handed, into our closet, canceling out more hard-won space. I scan for something to sacrifice. But seeing all our stuff tossed together, settling cozily in far corners, the new and old mixing in homage to us, only makes me proud.