What We Mean When We Talk About Accessories

Dear Ann,
I thought I’d start this project with a letter to you. What do we mean when we talk about accessories? Other than my naked body, is everything connected to me an “accessory”? No wonder we take such care to dress our children. Or that I dumped my 7th grade boyfriend for the sin of wearing pedal pushers to a classmate’s party. I was so embarrassed.
So was my ex-husband when I was pregnant. He’d wanted to marry a tall blonde and instead got a smallish brunette who gained 50 pounds that spread everywhere in her middle. Guess accessories like wives reflect on their owners.
But my cultural anthropology needs to give way here to material archeology. My house is full of items from loved ones either grown up or dead. I type at my parents dining room set in my living room. My father’s art frames my living room. Aunt Doris’s glass doored armoire holds my treasures. My treasures? A silver bible with turquoise that Opa gave me when I was 13. It announces my family’s Judaism and my brief attempt to be part of that. My favourite memories of that confirmation day include the song I chose to sing (an accessory?) and my grandfather’s tears. We don’t wear tears and they are from the body. I like the idea that in defining accessories, I also will discover the essential.

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