Well gang, I am taking the weekend off. My birthday is Sunday. It is a milestone year so I have much reflection to do as I pass from young adulthood to middle age.
I don’t share many things about my life but you may have guessed from my blog that I am a conservative which as a black woman leaves me in a socially and culturally compromised position. Because of this, generally I am a loner. I love antiques, history and art. I am blessed with a career that allows me to work with relics of the past.
Collecting vintage clothing and furniture is my passion. Speaking to the local vintage goods shopkeepers is usually where you can find me on an off day. Long hours of digging through racks of Victorian waistcoats and 50’s circle skirts is like heaven to me.
I have a 1956 Desoto that I love so much I never drive it. I leave it in another state with far less urban poison than where I live. Overtime, my baby has outlasted the best of them because of my discipline.
Originally my mother wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. I have tried each to a certain degree and could never fit in. I would be denounced for my practice of wearing vintage clothing to work. Panty hose and navy blue suits makes for a very awkward Afrocity.
The differences between the period I live in and the items I collect was always a source of confusion for my family. It was as if I was born too late, caught in a time warp. Cars have airbags now. Women wear thongs and not bloomers. Most African Americans are no longer Republicans. Where did I go wrong? This notion of technology makes for an improved life has some truth to it. I love the Internet, iPod Nano, and LCD TV set but when it comes to clothes, cars, and furniture one can tell that the relationship between the manufacturer and the product was strongly organic and spiritually intimate. A well tailored knife pleated skirt and pin-tucked blouse in shiny cotton can stand up to the test of time. The classics never die. Try doing the same with a Banana Republic chino suit from 1996 and you’ll be lucky not to be laughed off the New York Subway.
My vintage items will endure the many cultural and style shifts that come with getting old but that is why I love them. We will be together forever until death do us part- then what? Hopefully they will get passed on to someone who appreciates and cares for them as much as I do. Birthdays are happy occasions that remind us of our mortality. If I am lucky to live to see my 100th birthday, I will be blind, possibly toothless but armoured with my experiences and weathered by sorrow. Probing connections between the past and my present is like therapy to me. How else can one understand the absurdity of the Obama administration without looking to our founding fathers and their quest for freedom and liberty for all?
I have not decided what to wear on Sunday, but it will be something old, maybe my skin, maybe that old Chanel gown hanging in my closet or the vintage Chloe suit I found at a thrift shop in Montreal. Of course I will remember momma and that picture of us at my very first birthday- the one where I ended up sitting in my cake. One brief last detail, my father is standing me up. He already called to cancel the dinner I invited him to. He has more important things to attend, like his 40 year old girlfriend he met on Match.com.
Whatever I wear or do I am thankful to God for another year of life and happiness and I pray that I have many, many more.
Autographed Letter Signed,