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January 11, 2016
There was a sky blue dress with black buttons on its matching jacket. There was a yellow dress with a full skirt. There was a brown and beige plaid skirt. There was a black shirtwaist dress that I loved and wore constantly. There was a royal blue slip dress overlaid with what amounted to another dress, sheer netting flocked with velvet, so that the blue peeked through. There was a pair of ivory wool trousers.

Some of these looked well on me and some did not. That is not the point of this essay. What they all have in common is that they have all disappeared. I remember them well -- I would remember throwing them away. I'm sure I didn't -- nor did I give them away, or put them out for the birds to pick apart and make nests from their threads. I would remember if I had. And yet they are no longer here. There are scores of them -- articles of clothing that have simply decamped for a better place. It happens all the time.

I wonder if we do not draw too sharp a distinction between the living and the non-living? Between sentient and non-sentient? Our possessions may have a great deal more personality than we know -- how else to explain the blood feuds that develop between matching socks, who go into the laundry together and come out with one gone forever? Clearly, something fratricidal happened in the spin cycle. How to explain the vanishing of a skirt that emphasizes a figure flaw? Where did my red-white-and-blue bellbottoms from the 1960s go? My gauzy turquoise shirt, also from those days? My headband? And all those blue jeans -- where are they now?

Perhaps our stuff knows it's over before we do. A rustling in the closet, a stirring in the drawer -- in the night, when I am fast asleep. And then a silent whoosh of flight, out the window, up the chimney, into the darkness: squadrons of coats and skirts and garter belts gain the black sky and fly away.


I'll Fly Away

Some glad morning when this life is over,
I'll fly away.
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory,
I'll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I'll fly away.

When the shadows of this life are gone,
I'll fly away.
Like a bird from prison bars has flown
I'll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away.
To a land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away.

--- Albert E. Brumley, 1929
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