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‘Worn Stories’ Treats Clothing as the Fabric of Memory. I Can Relate.

  • April 08, 2021

In 2018, Kate started forgetting words. She complained of numbness and weakness in her right arm. A series of M.R.I.s were inconclusive. In February 2019, we visited a neurologist, who delivered the diagnosis: corticobasal degeneration, a rare disease that affects the area of the brain that processes information and brain structures that control movement. She was 38.

The disease is terminal.

The next several months were a whirlwind of trauma. Laid off from my job at The Dallas Morning News, I moved to Houston to work at the Chronicle. Kate went to live with her parents in East Texas. Overwhelmed by grief, I suffered a severe emotional collapse. I was briefly hospitalized. It was a very dark time.

Meanwhile, my clothes were everywhere, mostly in a storage unit in Dallas. A friend got access, boxed up a few items and sent them to me in Houston. There was the Warriors jacket. And the “Repo Man” shirt. And the O.D.B. socks. Looking at them flooded me with emotion — sadness, gratitude, regret. I longed, achingly, for times that would never return, times that didn’t hurt.

This might be a good time to mention that “Worn Stories” isn’t all sadness. There’s the nudist community in Kissimmee, Fla., where clothing usually means sandals. “I can’t imagine having my feet naked,” says one community resident, Diane, in the show’s first episode. “Going outside and walking across the lawn, there are insects down there.”

There’s inspiration as well: Carlos, from Blythe, Calif., spent eight years behind bars. Today, working for the Ride Home Program, he picks up newly released inmates from prison — and takes them shopping for clothes to wear in their new lives.

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