Last weekend, Dan undertook the Herculean task of cleaning out our garage. Many things that we'd thought were lost magically reappeared, and many of those things were things that well, honestly, we just didn't really need.
He dug out a few old bags of clothes that were slated for the Goodwill circa 2004. Somehow they got buried in our muck and never found their way out. Dan suggested I wash the clothes and then send them on their merry way. (To clarify: he did say "I'm not trying to say that you can do laundry and I can't." See, that's what high priced therapy does for you, people. It removes the issues surrounding laundry.)
Anyhoo… in the stash of freshly laundered toddler clothes was this old shirt/dress of Aidan's, from around 2000.
I swear to you, my heart skipped a beat down in my basement standing next to my Kenmore dryer, as I crumpled the dress to my nose and inhaled, imagining that I could drink in the smell of my then four-year-old girl.
I was instantly seeing pictures of her in the dress in my mind's eye—dance performances in our family room wearing her little white heeled shoes and trips to the Chelsea Heights playground. Any and every opportunity to have that dress on she'd take, even long after her growing frame made it far more of a shirt than a dress.
I hit the photo albums, knowing I had to have tons of photos of her in the dress. I knew I had video of her dancing in it, but I really wanted to find a photo.
And I did.
Then I just had a stop, drop, design and write kind of moment. And this is the page that resulted:
The journaling reads: Dan was cleaning out the garage and came across an ancient paper bag, full of baby and toddler clothes slated at some point, years ago, for a trip to Goodwill. He suggested we give them a quick wash, as they were covered in leaves and assorted mucky muck, and when I pulled everything out of the dryer, there it was: Aidan’s little red velvet dress. It’s funny how stuff comes rushing back to you; stuff you thought you’d forgotten. Like how she would wear that dress, put on her little white high heeled shoes, and dance around the family room the the sounds of Madonna singing, “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” from the Evita sound track. How, in that dress, she’d perfected her patented heel spin move. How she wore that dress long after it had outgrown her 4-year-old frame. I’m usually not overly sentimental about clothes. Maybe that’s because my baby girl is moving so surprisingly fast towards independence. Maybe the sentimentality grows with every passing year that she nears the time where she’s going to fly our little coop for a life beyond Sheldon Street. Whatever the case, I ended up digging out the DVDs of our early home videos, and watching my little girlie spin on her heel, and wishing I had found a way to be more present, more engaged and more connected back then. Funny how a piece of clothing can do something like that, isn’t it?
A trace of bittersweet worked its way in, as I spent the morning reflecting on the mother I'd been and the mother I am today. I'm glad that became part of this journaled story. I always want my children to know that I am a work in progress, and that it matters that I get better as I go. That there is always time to reflect and time to change. Always.
I took the photo of her on the swing and scanned it into Photoshop so I could preserve the original shot, then I designed a simple template and filled in the blanks. In true hybrid fashion, I printed the journaling elements onto white cardstock (turning off the photo layers before doing this) and then I dragged the photos into a new doc where I printed them onto photo paper.
Trim and assemble. And done.
There really are stories everywhere waiting to be told.