Monday, July 10, 2006

The Devil does not wear Prada

Almost every single day, for the past five years, I have worn the same black sweater. (I originally purchased two of them, but one became lost in 2002.) There is nothing special about my black sweater; it is an acrylic cardigan with five black buttons in front. Friends and family have gifted me with upgrades throughout the years--various versions of cashmere or wool, but they remain folded and unworn. For approximately 1,725 days, it has been the first thing I have put on in the morning-often over my pajamas.

I love my sweater. Newly washed, and warm from the dryer it has brought me great comfort. I have defined my self within its embrace-it has been amongst other things, armor, uniform, shroud, and bandage. I am like that sweater now: comfortable and well worn, with spots of paint that won't wash out.

When the first few holes began to appear along the seams, I made plans to repair them. It was only later that I realized that the sweater itself had begun to disintegrate from years of daily wear and washing. It is futile to try to mend fabric when you cannot bring two edges together; when the reason for the hole is a vanishing of substance. My sweater is disappearing.

This morning I decided I would put it aside. At least for a week. I would explore life without its secure coverage--I would venture from the blackness--I would try a different fabric against my skin.

My arms feel exposed and vulnerable. I am aware of my own hugeness in space. I am too hot. I am too cold. (I begin to wonder where the missing sweater is from 2001--perhaps I actually could find it, and be set for another five years.) I think about how all well loved items made of cloth and fiber suffer the same fate: Jesse's blanket worn smooth as silk in places, stuffed animals missing ears and eyes. At some point we must all set aside the things that give us comfort. It's a necessary journey. If you cannot pack a sweater, bring a raincoat.

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