In the Attic

Two weeks ago, Abby excavated my parent’s attic and it became apparent that I inherited the hoarding trait. Or rather, when something’s out of sight, it’s entirely out of my mind. Ma always donated my clothing after Abby wore and grew out of it. Around age twelve, the power of recycling was put in my hands. I put both this power and all of my subsequent clothes in the attic…for the next  fourteen years.

In honor of this gross collection of stained peasant shirts, fantasy novel rough drafts and broken sunglasses, I’ve put together three collages to represent the stages in my life while in this old house. (The truth: I wanted to practice my Adobe Design Suite skills.)

First is the charming early childhood collection. Featured accessories include a Lisa Frank bookmark, the sippy cup I drank Ovaltine hot chocolate out of every morning, and my Little Mermaid shell necklace, glittery water now evaporated. The Little Mermaid came out in 1989 and I was lucky enough to get an Ariel Barbie for Christmas that year. Her purple rubber bra refused to stay on. The background is a creative imagining of myself as Santa. Check out the plush sleigh and chubby reindeer (Lulls, anyone?).

Second is the obligatory awkward middle years collage. This one’s not quite as fun because I simply didn’t photograph as many fun things from this time period. Featured objects include my notorious watermelon retainer (the dark green ‘rind’ merely highlighted my teeth’s flaws) and a scented sachet from my friend Miriam’s bat mitzvah. Mazel tov, Mir! I still remember that night. The background here is a sample page from the informative booklet we were given in health class. Periods, boobs & feelings, y’all.


Finally, the hip teen collage. The background is a sheet of extra school photos; this one was my worst ever, not least because my nose is facing a different direction than the rest of my face. Featured objects include my first ever cell phone from senior year (which I used only to call for rides after track practice), a hacky sack (hahahaha) and my assignment notebook/planner, which I covered with a collage. Please note, the little type that pronounces, “I Am The Queen”. Damn right.

Stay tuned for the “In the Attic- Clothing Edition”! I’ll just do it below.

Representing the childhood clothing section is my famed overalls. “I finally found them! I’ve been looking for these for YEARS,” I told my boyfriend excitedly. “Yeah, I know, you’ve mentioned it several times,” he replied, clearly unimpressed. 

I bought this dress in the 8th grade for my first and only middle school dance. I found it heavily discounted at Sears; when I bought it, it was even more discounted and cost a total of $2. This was memorable, as was dancing to Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero” and Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”. I fit into this dress but will admit it was a little strained in the hips.

Here’s one of my shining accomplishments of high school and one of my weirder least weird fashion choices (forgot about my corset and snood phase for a moment there). I took a pair of hand-me-down jeans and applied all the craftiness, “cool” imagery and amateur sewing I possibly could. Let’s tour these, bit by bit, ok? The black dragon pocket (a nod to my Chinese birth year) adds a cargo-pants effect. I added fabric to the ankle seams because bellbottoms are timeless. Please note the laminated fortune cookie sewn onto the left knee and the little fairy figure painted onto the upper right pocket. The back of these art jeans is more of the same, plus a painted sunflower covering part of the butt.

So here’s to forgotten clothes, to beloved statements of rebellion, to childhood jewelry and memories of first dances, bat mitzvahs, homework and track practice. May we (I) remember, appreciate, and then donate most of it.

“I brought the bags and bags and bags to the Salvation Army.  The man at the drop off was incredulous.  He has never seen such a contribution.  He was wondering if you had any clothes left in your closets.” -Ma