I love thrift shops. It’s a rare occasion when I buy my clothes retail. Why would you, when there are perfectly good clothes out there for one tenth of the price? I must say, though, it’s getting harder for me as I get bigger. Thrift stores are for skinny people. And that only stands to reason, because people tend to cast off their old clothing as their waistlines expand.
When you get to be my size, though, I can only think of a few possible scenarios for the clothes that are available in the thrift store.
- The clothes are hopelessly out of style, in which case I’m getting what I’m paying for.
- Someone lost weight and they are confident that the pounds will stay off. Then, yay! Good karma for me!
- They’ve gained even more weight and have given up hope of ever losing it, which is sad to contemplate.
- But even sadder to contemplate is that they died and their family gave the clothing away.
Of course, there is no way to ever know. The reason I’m thinking about this today is that while unpacking I came across my mother’s raincoat. When she passed away 24 years ago (my God, how time flies) it was one of the things I asked to have, because I had given it to her.
She once told me that she always wanted a London Fog raincoat, and when I went off to college I was rooting around in a thrift store and I found one. What are the odds? It was in perfect condition except for a tear in the lining, so I paid 50 cents for it, sewed up the lining and gave it to her for Christmas. She loved that raincoat. It’s been sitting in a box on my closet shelf ever since she passed away.
I may just have to take it out and try it on, because it’s possible that I’ll be moving soon to the Pacific Northwest, in which case a good raincoat will come in handy. Odds are pretty long that it will fit me. (My mother weighed 100 pounds soaking wet.) But it will be hard to take it out of the box to find out. The first thing that always assails me when I do, even after all these years, is the smell of cigarette smoke. (Cigarettes where what ultimately killed her.) But then come images of her wearing it, looking quite pleased with herself. That is a nice memory, so I’ll power through that cigarette smell.
The funny thing to contemplate is that someday I will leave behind that raincoat, and no one will know its history. It will most likely wind up in a thrift shop once again. The next person who wears it will have no idea of its significance. That’s the way of things. Inanimate objects are filled with emotions and memories by their owners, but they mean absolutely nothing to other people. It’s as if our own stuff is endowed with some sort of magic that is lost on those around us.
I often wonder about the history of the outfits I’m looking at in thrift stores. How often am I wearing the clothes of the dead? Have I ever worn something and passed a relative on the street, causing them to have painful memories of a loved one whom they’ve lost? I hope not. And I hope if there is some form of afterlife, that person is looking down and is pleased that his or her wardrobe is being put to good use.
[Image credit: ecommerceboy.net]