Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jeans

I haven't worn them in three and a half years. I took a well-worn, well-loved pair of Lee's with me to Thailand and ended up purposefully leaving them behind in a Vientiane hotel room. Thai girls can wear them in 90 degree heat but I could not. Of course Thai girls are built perfectly to wear jeans, with their slender hips and long legs, while I look like Winnie the Pooh. That may have something to do with my abandonment of something I had loved to wear from the minute I'd graduated from baby overalls.

Cotton slacks were cool and comfortable and they became my Thai uniform but they never gave the same feeling that denim does when it's next to the skin. My slacks were well-behaved while jeans were adventure, rebellion, and talking back. I missed them.

Once long ago in Bangkok when I was thin, I bought a pair of second-hand Levis at the weekend market. My eyes were smaller than my stomach and I ended up giving them to our maid. She was a decade younger than I, much thinner, and raised in a conservative household. She burst into wild laughter when I handed her the jeans but disappeared to put them on and came out looking rather enchanted. They looked good on her but she found they weren't comfortable to work in and they vanished.

When I returned to the States and looked at jeans in the department stores, the prices made me hyperventilate. Even the humblest of denim commanded more than I was willing to pay so I stuck to my Thai slacks, purchased a skirt now and again, and moved on.

Until this week in a thrift shop. Sometimes you look at something and know it's yours, even before you check the size. I came home with a pair of very good jeans that had been worn and faded to perfection, so convinced they were mine that I didn't bother to try them on. When I did, I didn't want to take them off--the fabric is like velvet against my skin and they are loose enough to be pure comfort. I hastily and ineptly shortened them and went out into the world.

They give me the same feeling of freedom and anarchy that I first felt when I was five and could fit into my first jeans. I walk a little faster when I wear them and I feel as though the world is mine. In Seattle's cool climate, there will never be a day too hot to wear them and for once I am grateful for that.

In my second skin of denim, I feel a step closer to being home.


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