When I went, in 2000, I think it was, for surgery for a para-hyatal hernia (in which a tear in my diaphragm allowed part of my stomach to move back and forth into my chest cavity), it was my first time in a hospital in more than 30 years. For the occasion, I bought a pair of blue-and-white-vertical-
striped pajamas for the occasion. I’d not had, or worn, a pair of pajamas since I was about 10 years old, preferring either just shorts or nothing at all.
I still have them, and wear them every day (well, I do alternate them with a pair I was given a couple of years ago as a gift). The elastic in the pants gave out years ago, and I adjust them with a safety pin. There are places on the arms and elbows so badly worn that I can actually read a newspaper through them. But they are not torn, and so I wear them. Why do I wear them? Because, like so many of my clothes and other personal belongings which have seen better days, I simply cannot consider getting rid of them. They have been a part of my life for so long that to simply discard them when they are still wearable would seem, to me, to be an act of betrayal and abandonment. Would you discard an old friend just because he wasn’t as handsome as he once was? Of course not.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a pair of sweat pants with “Margason” stenciled across the rear, which I was given on the day I received my Navy issued clothing immediately after I’d joined the NavCads in August of 1954. I somewhere have a never-worn, neatly folded tee shirt with my name stenciled across the back on it from that same clothing allotment. And as long as I have them, all I have to do is touch them, hold them, close my eyes, and 55 years vanish. I am a NavCad again and my chest aches with memories of and longing for that time.
And how, you might wonder, do I manage that? Easily. I use selective logic as a buffer against my sworn enemy, reality. (Whether reality considers me its enemy I have no way of knowing, but I rather suspect if it had any thoughts on the matter at all, its reaction would similar to the Mona Lisa’s smile.)
If there is one thing I am not…and there are, in fact, a very great number of things I am not…it is practical-as-other-people-
regard-practical. I have, as I’ve explained so often, two existences: the existence of my body and the existence of my mind, and I increasingly prefer the latter.
I greatly admire loyalty, and loyalty is a two-way street. I am intensely loyal to those things and people who are important to me and extremely fortunate in that that loyalty is largely reciprocated. I probably just carry it a bit further than most, to include inanimate objects, which generally do not have much of a say in the matter, and when the time comes when I cannot avoid parting with them, I do so with true regret and a sincere sense of loss, for to lose a part of my past is to…lose a part of my past, and with it a part of myself. When the time comes that I must throw away my blue-and-white pajamas—when they tear or the already too-thin fabric simply gives out through wear—I will part with them, but not willingly, and not without regret. With them will go a direct, physical link to several thousand mornings of coffee, comfort and TV news, and sitting at the computer writing emails and books.
It will be yet another ending, and there have already been far, far too many of those. Maybe I should go out and get a new pair of pajamas. Maybe I should go out and get a new cat.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, and is available from Untreed Reads and Amazon: