If These Pants Could Talk…
Twenty-something years ago, I bought the greatest pair of heather gray sweatpants.
They were perfect for the grocery store, road trips, yoga class, nearly everything! Think the LBD of uber casual–they fit great, feel super comfy, and are almost always appropriate lounge attire.I bought them at The Limited for $29.95 with a little matching zip-up hoodie (additional $29.95), and resembled a diminutive boxer wearing the whole getup. I remember wondering if this was an impulse buy and a shopping move I’d regret if I didn’t wear it enough to justify the purchase. I bought it anyway.
My single-gal weeknight ritual went something like this: kick off heels, hang up work clothes, throw on perfect gray sweatpants, pour conservatively-sized glass of wine, and read or watch Ally McBeal because who didn’t love that dancing baby?
So I still have them…and they look like they have been through a war.
Each year I clean out drawers, making my obligatory Goodwill pile, and guess what I found in the shorts drawer? Yep, little gray sweatpants! I thought, “I don’t really wear them anymore unless I’m the only one at home because those suckers are obscene!” The waist elastic emerges through a 3-inch hole on one side, there’s paint all over the rear end from 15 different projects, and I made them into shorts at some point, which was admittedly a bad move but made sense at the time given the threadbare wear on the knees. Why in the world the sweatshorts were still taking up residence in my chest of drawers defied all logic. I’ve had them so long that they could walk around by themselves.
I tossed them in the Goodwill pile.
Then I took them out of the Goodwill pile and folded them neatly back into my drawer. Why? I just couldn’t throw them away! After all, we’ve been through a lot together, the gray sweat pants with phantom legs and me. They waddled with me through two pregnancies until I traded them in for a pair of men’s XL far inferior sweatpants. They climbed something like 37 collective flights of stairs with me moving into my first on-my-own apartment. Then the wearable security blanket moved into two more apartments and three houses. They downward-facing dogged with me in my first yoga class when I couldn’t touch the floor. We got a new ACL, and the stretchy saviors actually fit over OR under the great bionic-looking knee brace without irritating my incisions. Their soft cotton absorbed a few tears when a separation and divorce became a reality, and I could get them dirty when I buried my daughter’s cat in the yard and held her little shaking body while she said good-bye to her best furry friend. I’d forgotten until sitting down to write The Life and Times of the All-Knowing Sweatpants that I was wearing them when I got engaged and when I drove myself to deliver my first child at the hospital. (Another story for another time…)
The pants have traveled some serious mileage with me. My sidekicks. Like the clothing version of Tonto.
Now before the psychoanalysis begins, let me say that my attachment to the things isn’t really all that complicated. They make me laugh. Those suckers would get me arrested if I sported them in the grocery store–they aren’t even Wal-Mart appropriate! But they do remind me of how much I’ve grown up, softened over the years. The pants and I have lived a lot of life and have the rough places to show for it. At least I still have my legs, which is more than I can say for the pants. I can’t really wear them anymore, but I giggle when I open their drawer and see them in there, tired from what I’ve put them through.
Why am I writing about an old pair of sweatpants? In all seriousness, I did some thinking about why I’ve kept something with no redeeming purpose. I landed on just because they remind me of what life was like at 22, my wide-eyed view of the world, and the many adventures I’ve traveled since. They remind me of conquests, defeats, dreams, failures, an do-overs that led to new challenges. For some reason I can’t explain, those beat up britches make me feel proud.
So I’m keeping them. How a pair of pitiful pants that would live a more productive life as a dust rag encourages me defies any level of reason, but they just do. I look at those hideous things and I see a Wonder Woman cape because I know with utter certainty that I will survive whatever comes my way, that difficult situations provide opportunities to grow, and that I’m stronger than Ally McBeal and that dancing baby ever dreamed.
I think it would be beyond weird if I framed the pants, so they can stay in my drawer. #pantspower
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