Sometimes stories from the past are not worth repeating and certainly not worth obsessing on. Yet no amount of denial erases history.
It’s as true of fashion and style as it is of life.
I tried to conceal my demons from myself by simply changing my hair, my zip code and my wardrobe. I attempted to erase the 80’s from my memory and successfuly (in my own mind) ignored the fact that there was such a thing as the 80’s or that I participated in it at all.
Facebook changed that. It turns out, you can’t deny that the 80’s existed any more than you can pretend you never wore polyester.
It was a little upsetting at first when my high school buddies started sending me friend requests. At the same time, it was liberating because my high school buddies didn’t have the same feelings about the 80’s that I did. They reminded me of fun and creative days and nights filled with music and style.
The days spent shopping at Goodwill with girlfriends were quality, fun days. The days on Melrose Ave. going in and out of every clothing and music store…good times indeed. The nights at clubs seeing local live music as well as acts from the UK were some of the most exuberant, joy-filled days on record. It was a moment in history and I was a participant. The experience shifted my view of life permanently.
What I remember about those days is the freedom I felt in regards to style. I was comfortable with spray-painting stencils on my t-shirts and jackets, cutting the sleeves off my t-shirts, sewing buttons and zippers and putting safety pins on everything.
The Punk Rock movement opened my mind to style possibilities and freedom of expression I’d never experienced. That had it’s bright side and it’s dark side. I had enough “dark side” in my childhood, that’s why I ran away. In the process of repurposing I discovered how to bring back the “bright side” of those creative days in the 80’s.
Repurposing entails taking the best, most usable parts of several items and combining them together. For example, a zipper off one pair of pants sewn onto a skirt. Sometimes repurposing is taking an item and turning it into something else like turning a CD into a clock or a dog collar into a choker.
Recycling items in this manner allows you to use what you already have and make something entirely brand new with no expenses incurred. The end product is the joyful experience of creativity and a unique item to wear, keep or give as a gift.
In 2012 I began a Spring cleaning of epic proportions. This entailed pulling items out of boxes and drawers, taking photographs of what we had and creating a visual inventory. What was old or unusable went in the trash. Old and usable items were considered for resale or repurposing. Bags and bags of items went to Goodwill.
Part of the household inventory was Zed Records badges and badge designs. I remember how punkers used to wear badges as a way to identify other punkers, I wanted to wear little bits of history on my clothing for the female warriors among us, past and present.
It was while I was repurposing my clothes, my files and my life that I learned how to take the best aspects from each decade, from each story and make it a working part of my current life. With each round of cleaning and organizing came a greater clarity of what was worth keeping and what had to be discarded.
Some parts of my story are totally tragic. My dad took off when I was a toddler, my step dad is in prison and my other step dad killed himself. I was an emotionally disturbed teen and I ranaway from home. It seemed like the smartest thing to do at the time.
I didn’t realize that what I did when I was 16 would impact me for the next 33 years to come. I can’t go back in time and re-do it but I can repurpose it. I can stop pouring my energy into being a victim. Instead, I can use that same energy to marvel at the will of human spirit and the grace of God.
While I was doing the practical job of repurposing my clothing, I had the tactile experience of repurposing my story. Not just the punk rock days, but all the days prior to that. All the days that seemed like personal hell and sent me fleeing the comfort of my own home just to escape the terror. I changed the ingredients of my story and focused on strength and fortitude rather than victimhood and despair.
The truth is, a lot of things happened. Some of them hurt me to the core of my being and drove me crazy when I thought of them. I may have been crazy, I may still be crazy. But I’m the resilient daughter of a trucker; I can’t stay down for the life of me.
In upcoming blogs I’ll give examples of repurposing projects I did and how they helped me heal. Part of the journey had to do with capturing and organizing photos, another part came with cutting up meaningful clothing and style items and using them to create something new.
I started with a Juicy Couture purse my Grandma Sue gave me. That’s a story all in itself. For now suffice it to say, Grandma knew what she was doing even when she seemed like she was losing her mind. Stay tuned and let me know if you ever used repurposing in a storytelling or healing way.
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