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Posts Tagged ‘the line between borrowing and stealing can be very fine indeed’

Last night my husband read me an email about a potential job opportunity (this is A Perk [no] of marriage to a physician: getting dozens of recruitment postcards/emails daily touting all the wonderful! opportunities! in unnamed cities all over the country) in a city out west, and I remarked casually that I thought that’s where my high school ex-boyfriend lived. Then when I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that I was wearing a sweatshirt that once belonged to that same ex-boyfriend, and I figured this is where the Lifetime Movie of my alternate reality would start playing sleazy music and it would turn out that I had been having a steamy affair with my high school ex-boyfriend for years unbeknownst to my poor unsuspecting husband. Listen, Lifetime is as hard-up for content as we all are.

Do you have clothes that once belonged to an ex? Or… other things? I don’t know what those other things might be; all I have is this sweatshirt.

And I have it – and persist in wearing it twenty-odd years later – not because it has anything to do with the ex, but because it is the softest most comfortable sweatshirt ever made. (I used to think its unusual softness had something to do with his mom’s fabric softener; she used one of the liquid versions, like Downy or Snuggle, while my mother used fabric sheets. But considering the woman hasn’t run it through her ultra-specialized laundering process in more than two decades, I’m no longer certain.) 

There’s really nothing sordid about the sweatshirt. The ex and I didn’t come to some tragic end or anything.  We simply broke up when I went to another state for college, which meant that we ended the relationship on a no-fault note rather than going through the excruciating process of learning that we are absolutely not compatible in the long-term. I am glad that we broke up on friendly terms, but I am also glad that we broke up, full stop. (I feel duty bound to tell you – get the Lifetime people on standby – that I still exchange Christmas cards with the ex’s mother. She writes * Christmas letters * – nice long ones! – and so I get a mini-update on her and my ex AND his brother, with whom I was friends in high school. That’s the closest and only contact I have had with the ex since my husband and I saw him at his brother’s wedding back in the early 2000s.) 

I no longer remember if the ex gave me the sweatshirt, or loaned it to me, or whether I purloined it from his house or locker. But I do love it. It does have some sentimental value, because it has the name of my high school on it. (Not that my memories of high school are good, heavens no; if I think too hard about high school I sink into a quicksand of shame and despair.) But mainly it is just very comfortable. It’s thin enough to wear on a balmy evening when you wish you had more than a T-shirt on but aren’t ready for the heavy artillery (wool; turtlenecks). And somehow, no matter how old I get, it’s always the exact perfect size: just a little baggy. It’s a great sweatshirt. I own many, many sweatshirts and none has ever come close. A rat is going to build a nest in it now that I’ve extolled my love for it publicly.

The only other “borrowed” item I have is a sweatshirt from my best friend. We met in middle school. We haven’t lived in the same state since 1999, but I still consider her my best friend (spouses excluded). I was never a big fan of borrowing/lending clothing, but I loved to borrow her stuff. She has always been super fashionable, and she always had the chicest clothes, like stuff from the Gap and Banana Republic, when we had neither store even in our state. I don’t know how or why I came to be in possession of this particular sweatshirt of hers. I don’t wear it often – it’s kind of like the sweatpants of sweatshirts, which both does and does not make any sense at all, so I’m hoping you understand what I mean. Every time I wear it, unlike with the sweatshirt that once belonged to my ex, I think of my friend and smile. In that case, it’s the original owner that makes the sweatshirt precious, rather than the sweatshirt itself being great. 

My husband does not care in the least that I sill wear the ex-boyfriend’s sweatshirt. It is an interesting mind game to imagine how I might feel if my husband still wore a sweatshirt that once belonged to his high school ex. Even considering I went to lunch with my husband and TWO of his high-school ex girlfriends back in the years before we were engaged, I think I might be in favor of accidentally shrinking it in the wash. And yet I would be outraged – OUTRAGED – if my husband seemed the least touchy about my beloved sweatshirt (which once belonged to my ex). (That is a very different sentence indeed than saying “my beloved ex’s old sweatshirt.” Make sure you know what your adjectives are or could be modifying, people!) Fortunately, my husband is not going around wearing ex-girlfriends’ old clothes so I haven’t had to reveal what a dirty double standard bearer I am.

I don’t think anyone has any old clothing of mine, so no one is out there pining away for me or thinking of me fondly. At least not in a sartorial way.

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