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Catalog offers anthropological peek into my closet of memories

[10/03/2004]Lately, at the end of a long day, there’s nothing more welcome than the latest Anthropologie catalog rolled up in my mailbox.

It’s my latest guilty secret. Almost like porn I roll it up and tuck it out of reach of the dog so I can look at it undisturbed.

Filled with clothes, jewelry, furniture, bedding and kitchenware, the catalog offers a look that says vintage but not. Not since the Sears Wishbook have I so carefully studied a catalog.

On one of the last pages of my latest copy, there is an entry for a goldenrod poncho that caught my eye. It says it’s made of plush yarns.

My first poncho was thin, unbleached cotton in a cream color with orange and cream cotton fringe. There were orange and cream embroidered bee appliques on the front. I was 9.

It was the first time I remember having such a flowy, funky piece to wear. My aunt bought me the poncho. I loved it. But there was a dark side to the poncho.

The first time I wore it was a day in late August that felt like October. Warm sun, cool air with the light angled in a way that reminds Mississippians that fall will come again.

I skipped around on the gravel that was slightly cool under my bare feet for the first time in months, and I was wearing blue jeans also for the first time in months.

I remember this day because it was one of the first times I can remember actually stepping outside and seeing my whole self.

Underneath the poncho and underneath my T-shirt, I was wearing my first bra. The poncho had been a consolation present my aunt had offered, I guess, to ease my first steps into womanhood.

I had bitterly resisted my mother’s efforts to bind me up. I thought she was crazy and mean. I was only 9. I was embarrassed. She let it go. Or so I thought.

When I went to my grandmother’s, my aunt was there, too, for a visit. To be honest, I don’t remember how it came about. It’s as if one day I was hanging upside down in a hackberry tree barefooted while my mudpies dried, and the next I was dancing around Muse-like on the gravel driveway with my consolation poncho floating around my body over a new, white 28AA with adjustable straps.

I see now that there was a conspiracy. Although I had argued bitterly with Mama, I don’t think I so much as rolled my eyes at my Aunt Audrey or my Grandma.

I remember the details of the poncho much more vividly than those of the bra. Now that I think about it, though, it was the ONLY poncho I’ve ever owned. Well.

Maybe I should look closer at Anthropologie to see if they have one in orange and white.

Sonya Kimbrell is features editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail her at skimbrell@vicksburgpost.com.