It used to be that I housed an entire walk-in closet worth of clothes—and shoes. There were dresses I’d wore to specific parties, shoes that inspired writing, sweaters I’d held onto from kindergarten.  Memories hung like skeletons shrouded in a fear that I would forget suddenly all the important moments life had fancied my way without them.  As such, I hauled them across three states only to be shoved into a smaller closet, or a box under the bed.

I still remember the difficulty as I ran my hand over the brown tank top I once wore to a birthday party of a former crush. It had been the only time I’d wore it.  Years had literally passed and it no longer fit yet I struggled to put it on the donation pile. I had to keep repeating to myself going through the entire closet: “These cannot help someone being unworn in my closet. I don’t need them to remember.”

And still today, I pulled out my favorite summer dress and let it fall familiarly over me as I smiled at the memories enshrouded in the fabric. The dress has seen at least eight states and tasted water from the Atlantic, and Pacific. I could still hear the whispers it caught as his hand circled around my waist and he mumbled he loved the dress before he took it off.  It holds the laughter of girlfriends drinking too much tequila, and playing with my friends’ kids who giggle wildly as Aunt Nikki does something funny “for a grown up.” It is sunny, warm days and the courage to not hate my thighs. It’s purple and pink and everything that makes me feel free.

I notice the hem line has some lose threads. I know I should take care of them, but I won’t. It’s not that I can’t but I rather think it adds to the character—the life lived inside the shell. It hasn’t been perfect, but I choose these memories every time I search it out of my closet and feel the sadness as the temperatures turn too cold to wear it again for another season.

And still I know, when the time comes… when it no longer fits, when the threads can no longer hold the patchwork of days together… I will let it go. It won’t be easy but my earnest desire is that I will find another dress to imprint my adventures upon.  I don’t want it to come tomorrow, and as the spring breeze moves over me tonight, I have a hard time imaging how life would feel without it. And I have to remind myself to breathe and that it isn’t the dress that holds anything real.