Every day throughout Covid, I have gotten dressed before I sit down to write. And I don’t mean sweats. I really do it up: sequin shirts, pantsuits, a 1960s red velvet dress.
Sometimes I don one of my father's ties. As a girl, I loved to rifle through the immaculately organized tie rack in his closet and help him pick one out – there were so many colors and patterns that spanned the decades. When he died, I kept them all. I’ll pull one out on his birthday or yahrzeit or for the Passover Seder, times that I associate with him. Or days when I just want to feel him with me, or channel his work ethic.
Most everything I wear has a story.
Clothing, jewelry, bags, they’re evocative of a time in my life, a person I don’t want to forget. A ring that a former lover gave me. The gold-threaded cardigan that my Bubba wore daily. My blue fuzzy Cookie monster coat. I got that on consignment when I was 22. A woman stopped me on the street a few weeks later and said, “That was my coat, I had a lot of fun in it. It looks just right on you.”
These days, no one but my husband and my daughters see me. Sometimes, I post a photo on Instagram, something that I rarely did pre-Covid because it seemed vain and frivolous. But now I want to share what I am wearing. Even, or maybe especially, during this difficult time, there is pleasure in having someone see you all decked out. I miss that.
Even more I miss the human connection. Seeing friends. Passersby smiling. That woman approaching me to tell me she was glad I was the one to have gotten her jacket. The reason one gets dressed up – to see and be seen.
This New Year’s Eve, I was home with my husband and younger daughter. She's 18. The time of life when you leave home, taste the unknown. The last person you want to spend New Year's Eve with is your mother.
Still we celebrated. We ate steak, drank champagne, played music. Using an old Nikon camera, my daughter took photos of us modeling different outfits. What we might have worn if we had a place to go, friends to see.
The fun we had that evening has inspired a new ritual: All Dressed, Nowhere to Go. For the New Year, a resolution that every week, I'll get some wine or prepare something delicious, pack a hamper, and pay a short visit to a friend – masked and right outside their home.
The only requirement: that we wear something fabulous and share something that has kept us going during this difficult year.
That something to share could be the title of a book or song, a recipe learnt during Shelter-in-Place, caring for a new window-plant garden, a story. Whatever it is that has kept you going during the pandemic and this time of reckoning for our nation.