every winter i find myself scrambling to find the perfect sweater. despite buying many, many sweaters (as evidenced by the giant bag that i haul to crossroads to be turned down for sale, then the walk of shame to the thrift store to donate each spring), i always feel that something is missing. i realize that i am forever searching, in vain, for this sweater:
this sweater has me thinking about when i was a teenager and had a fuzzy old man sweater, which i wore pretty much every day. i was known for it. i wore it so frequently that it had little holes in the cuffs that i could slip my thumbs through and pull the cuffs up to my knuckles like fingerless mittens to keep my hands warm (which my mother dubbed “grunge holes”). this sweater is so beloved in my recollection that it makes me all warm and fuzzy every time that i think of it.
i think of this because the other item that i seem to be endlessly hunting for is the perfect pair of vintage levi’s 501’s: an item that i also possessed in my teen days and wore constantly. but my late-mid-thirties self buys every pair i come upon at thrift stores and flea markets (then sells them to other lost souls), orders ridiculously overpriced pairs from fru-fru cool girl web shops (then returns them all before my husband can raise an eyebrow at the ups package). i try them on, i look in the mirror and it’s never the right pair. just not. and it’s not that they aren’t cool. some, i even manage to pull over my weird mom hips and button all the way up. i am just convinced that the right pair is still out there, waiting for me. a pair just like the ones i had, back in the good ol’ days.
i have recently started to wonder if these items were so frequently worn not because they were so fantastic, but because they were all that i had. as a lower middle class teenager growing up in a small town, pre-internet, my options were limited. what i obtained on my minimum wage punk rock dishwasher salary or what i could occasionally con my mother into buying was typically second hand. my husband and i often lament about the demise of record and used book stores, we often talk with stars in our eyes about the days of old, about those incredible items scored before thrift stores were picked over and etsy-fied. but i think that a big part of what made the things that i had so special is that they felt like little victories, things i discovered and made my own and frankly, had to live with until the next school year or paycheck at least.
i’m not saying that i’m going to empty my closet in a konmari attack (again). but lately i think a lot about what i’m teaching my son, i think about all of the little things that our parents or teachers instill in us “for later” or “when we’re in the real world” and i think, perhaps, my limited means and resources were good medicine. because sometimes i feel a little like a kid in a giant candy store who maybe needs to be cut off. and just wear those fancy fancy pants that i already have every day and surrender my kurt-ney sweater dreams and teen mom jeans to the 90’s gods. my husband hates them anyway.