I have a pair of jeans from 2007. They have moved with me from Erie to Indiana (Indiana PA, not the flat Midwest state) to Harrisburg to Latrobe back to Indiana back to Latrobe to Verona to Oakmont and back to Verona again. Packed and unpacked and hung up in closet after closet. I felt ridiculous at times. I didn’t fit into these jeans during these seven moves in ten years. I wasn’t sure I ever would again but I felt like I *needed* to. That it wasn’t optional.
I wore these skinny jeans, these size 10 The Limited boot cut blue jeans, in 2007. I stopped wearing them January 2008 when I gained weight because I was depressed. I was then traumatized for several months by a fellow medical student and my weight went up and up. I gained 74 pounds, but who’s counting?
Someday returning to that weight, to those jeans, was supposed to be the ultimate victory. Over my mental health struggles, over my trauma, over him.
But here I sit in those jeans after a decade of hard work and good luck, and it’s really very anticlimactic.
I do not feel good about myself again the way I did then. These ten years have been hard. For me, for my kids, for my husband. For my heart and mind and soul and body.
Pregnancy and med school and residency and the awful things you do after trauma. To yourself. To the people you love. To God.
We are supposed to lose our innocence as we get older so that we can protect the innocence of those who deserve to hold onto it. Who need it. I understand that and I hope I live it. But I sometimes wish I’d held onto maybe just a small bit more of it.
How can it be that sick kids and rape and dysfunctional families and struggling to make ends meet and mental illness take from me the joy of The Limited boot cut blue jeans? Is there something better in its place?
i don’t know, but I hope so.
I am opening my own practice now. For addiction and autism and all things behavioral health. I hope I will find a joy so wide and so deep there, sitting with patients who’ve lost more innocence than they’d have liked too. Helping them find a new kind of joy. I hope.
The Limited closed this winter right as I returned to the size I’d been waiting for. So, this pair of skinny jeans, my perfect The Limited size 10 boot cut blue jeans, will be my last. I’ve been dreaming for ten years of filling my closet with a dozen pairs Someday. Someday when I fit back in. Back into the jeans, back into the Life Before.
But there is no returning to the Life Before. It’s gone as surely as The Limited. Something new will open where it once stood. I just don’t know what yet.