Today’s sun is shining, birds are chirping, and flip flops are waiting by the door; life in Florida during Pandemic is awfully relaxed. I throw on my black jean shorts, which I originally cut down from too hot, long-legged pants that I had brought down south from New England. On the crazed day I originally altered them with my cross-cut scissors, I left wild fringe on the unfinished edge just for effect to match my new, carefree bohemian style.
I’ve worn these old shorts several days in a row now, and they’ve just reached that point where the denim turns supply soft, where the looped belt straps are not so tight around my pinched waist, where the central silver button slips easily in and out of the too small hole, and where they are casually comfortable and passable like familiar friends.
I roll up the wild edges because I tell myself that I do not have time or inclination anymore to do things like properly hem. I wipe down yesterday’s spilled ice cream spot (it was Rocky Road, if you must know) and I adjust the folded legs so they are even against my slightly unshaven, unshapely, and untanned legs.
Sandals on, time to take a little walk, feel the fabric rustle against the movement of my heavier knees in motion to try to get some exercise, try to move this body. I stop on the sidewalk to fix the frayed remnants that are now hanging down my legs like long, unshaven hairs. I haphazardly pull the shorts up because they keep falling anyway. I stand just so to hide my truth when eagle-eyed neighborhood fashionista stops to say hi; she always looks so damned perfect.
Soon, I will be watching television again to get more “emergency” updates. While I lounge on my soft, brown couch, I will fondle the denim fabric and new tiny little emerging holes about the size of a ball point pen. They have started appearing near the short seams. I can worriedly rub my thumb and middle finger together through the holes and comfort my growing quarantine anxiety by making small, circle motions with my fingers. Inevitably, this creates larger and more noticeable holes, but the new gaping openings are cool because they too have frayed edges. These makeshift holes I consider as added bonuses, air conditioning, if you will, roadmaps of my life experience.
While I am wasting away time, I will think about how black hides almost anything, and no one will see the secret testament the holes have left. I will be tempted to also put on my black bra, but it too is missing a hook on the strap. This causes my breasts to hang in a way that is not so attractive under the kind of light-yellow billowing gauze blouses one must wear in this heat.
Holes are kindred signs that my shorts, (like me?) have outlived their day. They have outlasted all my errand running and outperformed my lazy Saturdays when Saturday used to have a real meaning. They speak to an unwillingness to let go, and to a darker truth. I have not been taking care of myself. Me and my holey (holy) black shorts, we have seen the insides of each other with me on the toilet, and shorts on the bathroom floor. Black shorts have said, “I don’t care,” much like many other things lately and I have scoffed right back, “Well, I don’t care, either.”
One day, there will be a point of no return. Eventually, holes will get too big to wear out in public. I will have to purchase new shorts and will feel much better when I do, but secretly I will be waiting for them to become threadbare. And on the day when I throw black shorts in the garbage, there will be bittersweet sadness. Holey black shorts survived right along with me and one can never truly replace survival.
This essay, written by Shauna Lee Lange, won the May 2020 Weekly Rambling’s Website award for adulting and politics.