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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

I have a sweatshirt. It is the best sweatshirt. It is the only sweatshirt I ever want to wear again.

It was not mine in the beginning, but I stalked it and plundered it and dragged it back to my cave where we stayed for the next several years. Maybe five. Maybe six or seven. The years are too short when you’re spending them with your favorite sweatshirt.

In the beginning it was Ralph’s. My parents bought us Brigantine sweatshirts, a light blue medium size for me, and an extra-large stonewashed black for him. Mine had a zipper. His had none. Mine had two pockets, one on either side. His had one giant pocket like a kangaroo pouch across the front. They both had hoods. Mine was dainty and light. His was hulking and weighty.

I wore mine everywhere and looked very cute. But that black mottled fabric… that giant kangaroo pouch… the big, floppy hood… it called to me.

So I took it.

Thus began a love affair that can be witnessed in many, many photos over the years. Ralph tells me you’re wearing that sweatshirt in every picture.

When we have a Zoom call, Ralph says please put on another sweatshirt.

I don’t want to put on another sweatshirt. I want to wear my black-and-gray mottled stonewashed sweatshirt with the giant pocket and the sleeves that hang down to my knees and enough room that I can eat all the cake on the plate and never feel the tug of a waistband.

My sweatshirt has been loved to pieces. Literally. The edges of the sleeves are shredded. The bottom hem has frayed. I’ve nearly worn the cuffs right off, and they hang on by the merest of threads, but that’s ok because I mostly roll the sleeves up anyway, into fat, bulky wrist-pillows.

I must have caught the cuff on something again because it is pretty much detached and hanging by a single piece of fabric now.

Until you have loved and been loved by a giant sweatshirt, you probably won’t understand what a perfect relationship it is.

It takes care of me when I’m sick, offering a fabric-cave for me to crawl into. It hides me when I’m fat, billowing in oversized folds around me.

It is very forgiving. I’ve gone shopping in it, in better days. I’ve worn it to the walking trail on cool days. It goes from bed to work back to bed with me. Sometimes on my body, sometimes as a pillow. If it’s a little too warm for such a heavy sweatshirt, it makes quite a nice blanket to ward off a draft.

I wear it when I cook, whether I’m mixing meatloaf or frying potatoes. It has absorbed cherry syrup and olive oil, thwarted beet juice and defeated bacon grease. Not a single splotch or stain shows.

I wear it when I clean. Dusting, vacuuming, bleaching. My pink t-shirt? Bleach-splotched. My black shorts? Bleach-splotched. My blue socks? Bleach-splotched. My gray sweatpants? Bleach-splotched.

My giant stonewashed kangaroo pouch sweatshirt? Perfect.

I mean, who could tell, anyway? It’s already splotched. This is part of its perfection.

It has doubled as a dish towel when I can’t find one. Doesn’t care if I wipe my hands on it or polish the counter with the sleeve wrapped around my fist. Is perfectly fine if I light a match and accidentally drop sparks on it.

Considering the abuse I have put it through, it’s come through like a champ. I bet it’s got another five years in it, easy. Maybe ten. Maybe I want to be buried in it.

All these women who walk around with their bellies hanging out, or their boobs mashed into a v-neck, I feel sorry for them. Someone has clearly never loved them enough to give them a giant stonewashed sweatshirt with a kangaroo pouch.

I wondered for a fleeting moment today, when the cuff almost came off, whether my sweatshirt was nearing the end of its life. It sniffed and tsked and reprimanded me for thinking such a thing.

So I considered sewing it back on.

But it assured me that for as long as I will keep crawling into it, it will be there to ensconce me. It is the Velveteen Rabbit of clothes, all worn and bedraggled and perfect, because sometimes when you love something to death it comes out immortal on the other end.

Photo: what’s a little fraying among friends?