25 October 2013

Folding Scarves

It's been a long few weeks, and I spent some time this evening folding scarves and shawls.  I remembered where and who they came from over the past thirty years, and felt the different weights and textures.  It was meditative and soothing.

Sitting at my desk or in a meeting gets chilly, and covering my neck is a quick fix.  In the classroom I move a lot more: shedding a scarf as I warm up is much less of a production than taking off a sweater or a blazer.

Amidst the smoothing and folding, I had to admit that I have a whole collection of scarves.  This was a bit of a shock, as I generally prefer one or two functional, versatile, well-made items to a drawer or closet full of options.

A corollary: I have a hard time getting rid of things.  I try not to buy things if they're not going to get used often and last a long time, and so when I've gotten something into my home, I feel kind of committed to it.

(Possibly an aside: The alarm clock I bought when I started college just went to the recycling pile.  It finally got dropped one time too many.)

A couple of years ago I bought a sweater that felt fine in the fitting room, but when I wore it for the first time it turned out to be itchy.  I've felt compelled to wear it anyway, in a penitential kind of way, and then told myself I should keep it, since after all I sometimes use it.

But I'm trying to give myself permission to get rid of stuff like that.  And so I've finally put it in the donation bag in company with the shrunk and the ripped and the stained.

But not scarves.  Lovely lightweight wool that a friend brought back from Italy, fringed purple from an aunt in France, blue velvet I splurged on at the British Museum shop.  A circle of black, knit by my mother-in-law; greens and purples on cotton, left over from wardrobe after a film shoot.  Wispy teal from India by way of a shop on Second Avenue.

Deep blues and purples on silk, bought during a year teaching in Shanghai, so long ago it sometimes seems like a dream.  Yet deeper in the past: burgundy wool woven with gold threads from the family I lived with as an exchange student in Switzerland.

I enjoy the textures, the colors, the warmth.  I'm going to depart  from principle without apology and let these things give me pleasure.