Written By: Monique Hemingway
It was a blistery day, condemned to my house complements of El Niño. Thoughts rang through my head of “What to do?” “What shall I do?” Aha, I’ll clean the garage! Yes, that was the answer. It was a long overdue, dreaded but necessary task. Universe had kindly blessed me with free time, no commitments and no excuses. It was a done deal.
I bravely pulled out the rickety ladder. Yep, may as well start at the top and work my way to the bottom. The rafters seemed like the obvious choice. Up I went; not really trusting the steps, but determined to make some headway. There amongst the dust and cobwebs laid before me my children’s old baby blankets. Such precious memories, gingerly packed in airtight bags, waiting for the day when my grandchildren would be born. “Certainly I must keep those” I whispered to myself,” but probably don’t need this box of broken Christmas lights”. Into the trash the remnants of Christmas past went. Their journey to a landfill was about to unfold at the weekly scheduled trash pick up. Next was the box of unread books and novels that had been on my “Must Read” list for eternity. Yes, I had great intentions but unfortunately very little time. I destined those to my donations pile for others to enjoy and get lost in. Hours went by as I sorted and sifted through memories, junk, books, unfinished crafts and useless stuff.
Growing exhausted I was determined to finish what I had started. After all, I hate to do anything half ass. I crawled on my knees into the dark musty corner and pulled out the last box. It was hidden away far out of reach, just begging to be discovered. There alone in the dark it had silently existed, waiting to be acknowledged, recognized and validated. It was labeled “Monique’s Wild Clothes”. The air around it was stagnant and suffocating. In this dormant region of the crawlspace its existence had long ago been forgotten. Its worth now covered with cobwebs and dust no longer serving any purpose.
I threw it down off the ledge and began my descent down the ladder. I put it up in my bedroom to open later once the kids went to bed. I was already sensing this box was for my eyes only; my own Pandora’s Box. What mysteries would it hold for me? What stories would it tell? What secrets would it whisper to me?
I made dinner, washed dishes and did all my nightly routines. At last the kids were tucked in bed, fast asleep. Their minds, yet untouched by adulthood were surely dreaming of cotton candy, Unicorns, and all things wondrous and magical.
With so much to keep me busy I forgot about THE BOX. Wearily I crept upstairs to shower off the day’s accumulation of grime and grit. My body was longing for the treat of hot water and the sudsy lather of my luxurious Amber scented body soap. I opened my bedroom door, and looming before me there it was…THE BOX. “Monique’s Wild Clothes.” THE BOX. It ever so cryptically called and beckoned to me. It desired to be opened, to spill its long-held secrets, to reveal and proclaim itself.
The shower can wait. I decided it was time. THE BOX….she was dusty, tattered and timeworn. She served her purpose but was a bit rough around the edges. She had seen better days. She was bound tightly with never ending loops of packing tape; determined to keep all her contents protected and sealed away.
I had to tear, cut, coax and manipulate the tape that had kept her imprisoned for all those years. Finally, I was able to peel back her layers of confinement and set her free. I could almost hear her sigh of blissful relief, as I opened her lid. At last she was finally allowed to quench her thirst and drink in the fresh air she was craving. All that she held in for decades was now freed. Her innards hidden in darkness, we’re now going to see the Light.
Giggles came over me as one by one I took out her belongings and laid them before me. I discovered my old clothes from my life in Hollywood, circa the early 90s. There were teeny tiny hot shorts, go-go boots, a neon pink vinyl hat with matching gloves, miniskirts, thigh highs etc. All the things I wore unapologetically as a young, supple and wild thirty- something. In this box, I caught a glimpse of my life before kids. That time before crow’s feet and wrinkles, before sagging breasts, hot flashes and painful bunions. An era that existed before sensible shoes and mom jeans purchased at Costco. Certainly, way before the 50 pounds of fat I gained after 5 years of fertility hormone injections and then followed up by back to back babies at the ages 42 and 43. Oh yes, my mind stirred, I vaguely remembered her.
She identified herself simply as Monique. Not as a wife, not as a mother, not as an adult, not even as a grown up and all that comes with that. She was uniquely Monique. That’s all she needed to be. That is all she desired to be… nothing more, nothing less. She was beautiful, she was free, and she was uninhibited.
She was a Wild Woman living life on a whim, moment by moment, anticipating the next adventure. She relished in experiences yet untapped; awaiting her discovery. She oozed her sexual magnetism and wasn’t afraid to show it. And then it happened… she started to age. She did what grown-ups do. She got married, had babies, secured a mortgage and a car payment too.
She lived in fear that she couldn’t keep up with all that society had dictated she ought be. So, she gave in, broke down and gave up. She slowly retreated into her own emptiness withering away in her sadness. All her energy went towards convincing the world she was Ok, convincing the world she was strong and able. Years of feeling underachieved, unworthy and unnoticed mounted on her and those layers showed up on her body as fat. She then overcompensated and people pleased. She thought that would somehow validate her worth and make her whole again. It didn’t.
Being fat, tired and rundown became her norm. After all she was 40 now and that is just what happens she convinced herself. Isn’t that what they say? The media and magazines had deemed her beauty and worth washed up and expired. Thus, she believed them. That is when she boxed up the wild clothes. At that moment, she literally made a mental note that it was time to “hang it up”. She accepted her fate of settling into the impending doom of mundane middle age. The clothes were then packed up into the box and made their way into the rafters to be forgotten. THE BOX too accepted its fate and settled into its lifeless reality.
Flash forward a decade later to that rainy day. As I laid out the hot shorts before me the thought crossed my mind. “Do I dare try them on”? “Why not? ”I thought, “I am the only one awake”. Feeling a bit eager, the answer was an astounding YES! I had recently incinerated those 50 hellish pounds through a fabulous weight-loss program. At 50 years old, I was finally feeling optimal again. I decide to go for it, not really knowing what to expect.
I excitedly stripped off my clothes; trembling with both anticipation and fear. Feeling a bit silly, I turned on some music and I picked up the first pair… a black shiny, size 2 sequined little number. I smiled and took a deep breath as I shimmied them over my naked hips, not sure what to expect. Then spontaneously the tears came streaming down my cheeks…they fit, they actually fit!
In that moment, I became so grateful for the weight loss but more importantly grateful for the reclamation of myself. Not only did they fit but as I strutted in front of the mirror, I looked pretty damn hot! Not hot like that thirty -something hot, but a radiant white hot!
The sexy radiance kind of hot that one earns thru the journey of time and experience. An inner glow that is the reward of wisdom obtained and heartaches felt deeply; the alchemical mix of success and failures that transform the maiden into something altogether different. The undeniable exuberance of a woman who has finally stepped into her power and laid claim to all her glory. That was me! In those hot shorts, in that moment, at the age of 50… it was the Goddess recognizing herself. SHE was alive and well. At last, SHE had awoken!
The epiphany was crystal clear…I am and always have been the Wild Woman. HER energy pulses thru me to my very core. It is what I am made of. SHE is my essence, SHE is my birthright. The tears poured forth as I became acutely aware that THE BOX metaphorically represented me. How I had hidden my contents away, sealed myself shut and shoved myself in a dark corner to collect dust. My identity boxed in and suffocated. My Soul yearning to be set free, to breathe, to just BE!
I asked myself, “Why had I kept this box in the first place? “ Why didn’t I just throw the clothes away years ago? And the answer came. Somehow even in my darkest of days, I intuitively knew I would one day wear those garments again. That one day I would cherish them and what they represented for me. I would reclaim them and I would reclaim myself.
That day was today…. the day I rescued myself from the garage rafters.