The comfort of old

“As comfortable as an old shoe.”

My toes will attest to the veracity of that adage. I imagine we all have our favorites.

I’d always heard about the fellow who had a sweater — or maybe it was a jacket — he positively refused to let go. Perhaps even a dramatic rescue from the trash was needed on occasion. Condition hardly mattered. As long as it hung where it should be on the body, who could disparage the look? Yes, of course there were times when it (and he) should not have been permitted to leave the premises (the “woman in control” might shudder) but sweater stayed — as did he.

I confess to having a few sweaters tucked away with the name tags still securely sewn across the neck in back. College — if not camping — days are so many decades ago but the garment (I think particularly of a yellow cardigan) still fit the bill. Why not?

But — and make that please a big BUT — while I find it hard to get rid of “good” clothes, I’m happy to toss the others as they get threadbare. I try not to embarrass myself that way.

Except for my blue sweater. A crew-neck pullover, it was made by L.L.Bean approximately (well, give or take) 30 years ago. Having a “new” stitch that I’ve never mastered, it was large enough to be baggy (I think it’s a medium though I have the same model in a men’s small), fitted enough to look respectable (OK, respectably baggy) and warm enough to be my first choice over and over again.

I remember wearing the blue to the office one day in the mid-1980s. It was recognized at once for everyone, it seemed, had at least one just like it.

(As an aside, I keep asking L.L.Bean to PLEASE reissue this popular item again. They have tried recently — but it was so ill-fitting it was quickly pulled from catalogues and web. Another attempt with a gaping collar and loose ribbing was no more successful. I keep hoping they’ll give it yet another try and give it a chance to be the success it deserves.)

For now, however, I have my blue sweater.

Or does it have me?

Both forearms are repeatedly frayed. Too many decades of writing perhaps? Somehow that lends it a new authenticity that pleases me. Doesn’t it broadcast “this is one great sweater that still deserved to be treated with respect and kindness?”

I wouldn’t wear it beyond the front door — well, perhaps to work in the garden but not OUT. Not ever. (Unless I forgot.) I do have “respectable” sweaters, a bit more impressive, including their new navy one in a small size that must fall practically to my knees. (All right. Perhaps “respectability” is in the eye of the beholder — or, in this case, the wearer.)

It is April now — almost mid-April in fact though the white stuff continues to occasionally filter down from above. When I’m home and feeling sloppy, that old sweater is invariably top choice.

I really don’t see any of the holes growing larger (though hadn’t been aware of them at all till they reached their present holey stage) and can’t imagine things will get dire enough for me to see the cuffs separate — or a hand push through mid-arm rather than where it should be.

But a quandary. Soon — OK, not soon enough but in time — the days will grow warm enough (and stay warm enough) that a heavy bulky sweater won’t be needed. Do I wash it then (for these have always been superbly washable — and dryable) and put it away until cooler days return — or do I display a bit more reasonableness than I might acknowledge and toss it now?

It’s so comfortable, a faithful old friend. And yet, I suspect I’ve reached an age where I might have forgotten all about it, were it not for this column, by the time winter does roll around again.

Go … or stay?

It’s not a decision I need make today.

Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. “Her Reason for Being” was published in 2008 with “Love in Three Acts” following in 2014. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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