my favorite college Italian professor was distracting. she didn’t have a tic or missing teeth. she didn’t burst into song mid-discussion. in fact, i don’t think she had any weird habits.
the problem was her outrageous beauty. we’re talking a bad-for-society level of attractiveness.
during class, in addition to lecture notes, i took to recording a summary of her outfit in the margins of my notebook. to my credit, i wrote them in Italian.
you know how everyone tells you to learn for the sake of learning, not for some fuzzy future payoff? well. i love Italian and i learned it because i wanted to, but i’d be lying if i said i didn’t also work hard to impress her. my thinking was: maybe if i ace the in-class essay, she’ll give me some of her old sweaters…which i can wear as neck warmers because i’m twice her width.
there were few fashion-forward role models at my tiny liberal arts college. our professor was a sartorial diamond in the rough of western Massachusetts and we treasured her. it was a women’s college, so we knew we weren't supposed to get sidetracked by the elegance and sophistication of someone’s wardrobe.
but we were not that strong. instead, we remarked that outfits were never repeated and every item looked brand new. she must buy out the entire peninsula when she visits Italy, we decided.
as the year progressed we got bolder in our admiration. eventually, a couple hours into a seminar in which she’d debuted a new award-worthy ensemble, someone blurted out, how many clothes do you have? (again, at least it was in Italian)
it’s like a river! she exclaimed, surprised but game. the old floats out and the new comes in. yes, she constantly bought new clothing. but she also donated the worn items to keep the amount manageable. look good and move the hell on, was her dictum.
with Christmas on the way, most of us face an impending influx of stuff. and while we excel at accumulation, we tend to fall short on the second half—the parting with objects. do yourself a favor and take a couple hours to purge what you do not need. if it helps, remind yourself this is what absurdly beautiful Italian women do all the time.
this way, when you receive gifts you can bypass worrying, where will i put this? and move straight to i can’t wait to use this! if you somehow receive nothing, you’ll gain psychological room to breathe with your newfound empty space. because like a river, the flow of our clothing can easily flood its banks if left unchecked.
i never received any sweater/neck warmers from my Italian professor. but i did internalize her minimalist clothing concept, which is a better present anyway. it takes up less room.