Glad Rags

Due to a happy confluence of stubbornness and uncharacteristic fiscal restraint on my part, we’ve spent the last nine months largely in the same clothes we packed into suitcases to bring to New Zealand. Now we’ve gotten to the point where K is asking me whether this hole in her camisole looks more like a lightbulb or an icecream cone:

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It looks like a full-spectrum 40-watt to me. Either that, or a sad vanilla scoop with a drizzle of huckleberry to liven things up.

Hey, right now I’m sporting the holiest sweater I ever did own and I’ll wear it gladly morning and night until we leave (have you ever had a person-shaped blanket? This is one of those, a cashmere find from a few years back that’s too soft for its own good.).

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I kick back a little, and what’s this? A sailboat sailing armpit sea? A tortilla chip lost on its way?

B’s belts are worn/cracked/despondent. When you want a whippet of sleek shininess around your middle, don’t reach for one of his belts.

Almost every day I have a conversation with one of the kids that goes something like this: “Mama, my pants have another hole!/my jacket sleeves are too short/my flip flops came loose again!”

And my refrain: “Can we make them last for three more months?”

I think this stage must be really common for expats who find that clothing themselves abroad costs a lot more than in the U.S. (due to import taxes, not necessarily because sweat shops are completely bypassed). That said, I can’t say enough good about the numerous op-shops and thrift stores here in New Zealand, full of heady second-hand possibilities. I’ve spent many a happy hour perusing the shops nearby, and come away with some good stuff, including white school shirts for K.

Part of the clothing situation is due to the laundering situation: if our washing machine here at the house spoke, it would speak a harsh, gutteral German dialect that goes “KAU-en. KAU-en. KAU-en.” It doesn’t agitate (too French); it chews up clothes and leaves them whimpering in a damp whirl at the bottom of the machine. And that’s before they get hung to dry in the brilliant sunshine.

Speaking of the bright side, we’ve been here for about 9 months, and in that time I’ve bought a thick beautiful sweater, an op shop t-shirt, an op-shop white button-down blouse, and two fine-gauge sweater/shirts. Those are coming home with me, and I’ll hopefully be wearing them into the next decade, into who knows what chapters of life and where…

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