Memories & the Mundane



“I like your hoodie, Mrs. S.,” she said, eyeing the black velour, “Is it new?”


I smiled, thanked her, “Nope, it’s not new. I’ve had it awhile.”


“Oh, well, I’d wear it,” she said, then turned back to the neighbor boy.


Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on sixth grade girls, but I will tell you this much– that’s a rare compliment, right there. So I took it. Gratefully.


And I looked down at the hoodie I wore.



Black Hoodie


* * * * * * * * * * * *


You know how sometimes you hear a song and you’re instantly transported back in time?


You know how sometimes you smell a scent and memories surge to the forefront of your mind, unbidden?


You know how the taste of a certain recipe can resurrect stories and experiences long-thought forgotten?


I touched the fabric, ran a finger down the zipper, twisted the satin pull, and felt myself spin back in time, the memories of donning this particular garment over and over, day after day surging over me.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Truth? This hoodie is a maternity hoodie. It’s from Old Navy. I opened it alone in a hospital room, the Christmas of 2005. I should have been five months pregnant. Instead, I had just given birth to a teeny tiny baby girl who was fighting for life in the NICU, while I recovered from major surgery.


I hadn’t expected to be having a baby so soon. I hadn’t planned on signing on to stay in our state’s capital city for over 100 nights. I certainly hadn’t planned to no longer be pregant after Christmas when I’d been due on April 15th.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *


I’d arrived at the hospital in regular clothes. I carried C. in such a bizarre way. I had gained all of 4 1/2 pounds at that point and I always joke that it was all in my chest. I was still in regular old size 8 jeans, but I had ballooned up to 32G bra.


Ironically enough, the only time I wore maternity clothes during that pregnancy was AFTER I gave birth, rather than before. My c-section left me tender and sore and I couldn’t bear having clothes cling or touch my skin. Maternity jeans and tops became my best friends in the months following C’s unexpected arrival.


And I wore that hoodie nearly constantly.


I remember, vividly, rising in the still-dark morn, reaching for the familiar velvety softness. I would wrap it around my nightgown for night feedings of my 11-month old and night pumpings for my newborn. I would throw it on over random knit tops, yanking my hair into a knot, and yawning my way down to find breakfast. I would burrow in it while walking the chilly, windy sidewalks over to the hospital. And I washed it, over and over and over again, in the little Ronald McDonald House laundry room, each time hoping whatever random detergent happened to be in there wouldn’t irritate anyone’s skin.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *


I don’t think I’ve worn this hoodie for three years, to be honest. I stumbled upon it on the top shelf of my closet and thought it would work fine with my vampy black nails and bright teal leggings. So I wore it.


It’s not new, dear sixth grader. In fact– far from it. It is a garment that manages to stay in my closet not for its newness or trendiness or fabulous fit. It lives on in my wardrobe because it’s earned its place.


Because memories can add beauty to even the mundane.

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