I threw away a pair of pants today. No big thing, right? Well, not for you, maybe. Whenever I throw away anything I've had for a long time, it inevitably opens floodgates of thoughts and memories and reflections, and reminds me yet again...if any reminding were needed...of the fact that I am just a tad...well, for want of a better word, let's just say “strange.”
The pants in question were one of five identical pair I purchased probably eight years ago...I believe at the K-Mart in Ironwood, Michigan. I hate buying clothes simply because when I go shopping for them, no matter how many thousands of them I may look at, I can never find anything I like. So when I do find something, I tend to buy several of them. These particular pants are a nice shade of blue (my favorite color), and can be worn anywhere casual is acceptable...so I bought, as I said, five pair, and by rotating them, have worn them steadily ever since. I'm sure many people who see me regularly but do not know me think I only have one pair of pants. In the intervening years I've only found one other pair of suitable, slightly dressier blue pants...so I bought two of them, though, because they are a little more dressy, I don't wear them nearly as often.
The pair I threw away today were the first of the original five pair to go, though they've all been experiencing the same degree of wear and tear at the same rate. I fear, now that the one has gone, the others' time is fast approaching. The first sign was a hole in one of the pockets: the front pocket where I keep my keys (which tend to poke a hole in increasingly worn thin fabric). Shifting my keys to the other front pocket quickly resulted in a hole there, as well. It reached the point where I couldn't put anything in either front pocket without risking having it just slip through the hole, slide down my leg, and drop out onto the ground. Two other pair are beginning to develop pocket-holes. As long as I can use the pockets, the pants are generally safe. I've been gradually limiting their use, only wearing them around the apartment or for a quick run to the store where people are not likely, upon seeing me, to immediately assume I am homeless.
But the fabric gradually wears thinner and thinner and then a small hole will appear on one leg, generally in the vicinity of the knee, as it did in the just-discarded pair, which I wore yesterday while running errands before reluctantly deciding that their time had come. And, as I say, the time of the other four pair is coming, too.
Yes, I'm sure you're ahead of me here—the analogy between pants and people. I am well aware that people, like pants, wear out, too, and eventually must go.
I've said many, many times that I hate endings; I hate letting go of things with which I am comfortable and which have served me long and well. I consider it...what?...cold, uncaring, and somehow ungrateful of me. All my life I have attributed sentient qualities to non-sentient objects. (One of my most repeated stories is of when, as a small boy, I went shopping with my mother for a new throw rug for the kitchen. She asked me which one of several I liked best and, while there was one I did like more than the others, I did not say so for fear of hurting the feelings of the other rugs. In many ways, I'm still that little boy.)
And deep inside my strange soul, I am frightened by each closing, by each throwing away, because I am throwing away not just things but memories and threads which bound me to the past...things which in some small way contributed to my being who I am. And there is the chilling awareness that if all things must eventually be let go of, so then must I.
Of course I know that there is much good that lies ahead. I have fought time all my life but realize that no matter how I want it not to be so, like a plane crossing the ocean, I quite some time ago passed the point of no return. There are far fewer years ahead of me than have been left behind. This isn't morbidity, simply fact. I know that the years left ahead of me—however many there may be—will bring new adventures, new friends, new books to write, new memories to cherish...and new pairs of pants to feel comfortable with.
And even so...I shall miss those pants.