Sunday, October 11, 2009

These old socks

Back to one of my old themes today, focusing on my oldest pair of socks.

I bought these socks back in college. I think it was my freshman year at Georgia Southern. there are some things about that trip that I remember and that is what I am going to write about today, not the socks themselves which are pretty ordinary tan colored elastic socks that straddle the line between casual and dress. I haven't worn them all that much over the years, which is why they are still around about twenty years after the original purchase. Truth be told, there are things about the socks that I don't particularly like--especially how difficult they are to pull off of my feet. But maybe I'll get back to that.

The occasion of the sock purchase was something of an ordinary Saturday in the Spring (I think?) of 1991. My first year of college was coming to an end and I had been living in the dorm with my old high school friend G. On this Saturday, either because we needed clothes (not likely) or we needed something to do (more likely), we decided to drive to Savannah to go to the mall. Statesboro had a mall, but it wasn't much of one--though not as bad as my hometown's mall, which had been in steady decline for the last several years. Savannah, however, was the most "urban" area in this part of Georgia and therefore, had a mall to go shopping in when necessary. Plus, it was a manageable roadtrip for a weekend afternoon and got us off of the campus and out of our dorm rooms. (You can see that while we did have friends, we weren't burning up the social circuit at school. We just weren't those kinds of people.

So, of to Savannah we went. I don't remember many of the particular details of that trip. I guess I could make things up--the songs we listened to in the car, the sorts of conversations we might have had, but I'll try to stick to the things I do remember. I remember that I bought these socks in the Gap store and along with the socks, I purchases a thick sweatshirt/hood pullover that was a bright mustard yellow. Looking aback on that purchase now, i really wonder what I was trying to accomplish. I have a few yellow things in my closet--even today--but I'll admit that yellow is hard to pull off, especially in cold weather wear--which at the time I thought this hoodie/sweatshirt thing was. In actual fact, it was probably intended as something for those kids who were aspiring to be white boy rappers like Marky Mark or (God help us) Vanilla Ice. I, I hope you realize, was aspiring to be none of these things. I was probably simply attracted by thew bright yellow color--a color that said "Look at me!!"

(I know that this is a undercurrent of many of the clothes I wear . . . wanting people to take notice. But, moving on.)

So, I bought the socks and the obtrusive sweatshirt. What is funny is that I had an uneasy relationship with both items of clothing for as long as I had/have them. The sweatshirt is long gone to some charity donation box and the socks, as I said, I still have. But I knew that the sweatshirt wasn't quite me as soon as I got back to Statesboro and tried wearing it some. It's color was a bit too "Look at me!" and it wasn't sized correctly for me. (I say this like it is the shirts fault that I picked it in the wrong size.) It was always a bit big, too much for me to pull off in so many different levels. And as I've gotten older, I find that I like clothes that fit me tighter. I think they just make me feel more secure, more in control of what I'm doing than things that are too loose, too baggy, too outsized. (As usual, I push myself to be "outsized" at times, but find that I don't like it when I'm there. I want to pull back and slide into the crowed a bit more.)

That day was one of the first times I went out and purchased my own clothes--and I guess I learned a few things as I lived with those choices. You may find it remarkable that I was nineteen years old and had such limited clothing purchase experience. But, well, in the past I went with mom to get things and I just wore clothes for a very long, long time. I didn't go out in search of clothes that often. Maybe that was the reason that I still remember the day out of all the other weekends that we did things in college. Maybe it was because I came away from this taste of independence with nagging regret that I couldn't quite let go of. Maybe it's just because I saw the socks this morning and some of these memories came back and I decided to sit sown and write about it finally. Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn't. But I'm glad I took the time while sitting out here on the sun-dappled patio to put it out there.

It felt good to blog a bit again.

Let it be the start of a new commitment.

(Man, that is sappy! But I'll leave it there.)


Sven Golly said...

How very Proustian!

Tracy S. Altman said...

(1) Good to see you back! (I know, you've been back for several entries now, but I was on vacation and offline. So I'm catching up.)

(2) Proustian, indeed. It makes me wonder, suddenly, how much self-understanding we lose in a throw-away society. I mean, we like to think that our selves are some kind of invisible, inviolable things locked safely away in the middles of our brains, but that kind of gnosticism doesn't fly--we, and our knowledge of ourselves, are all keyed in and inextricably linked with this world of matter, of things. Even in Revelation, the wealth of the nations is taken up into the New Jerusalem, and some theologians/thinkers think this could mean even specific artifacts. I'm for that.

(3) Apart from books and papers, the only thing I have left of my freshman-year clothing is a black-and-turquoise windbreaker/raincoat that I still love wearing, only I don't dare wear it often for fear I'll rip it and lose even that.

(4) I couldn't help noticing you're wearing cuorduroys . . . talk about your associations!

David said...

Re: point (4), please tell me Tracy that you have read my previous Clothing Project entry on corduroy pants.

Tracy S. Altman said...

I had not! But I have now. So that's one deficiency corrected.

Of course, now I'm just going to be bothered the rest of the day by Sven Golly's (!) question: which French king DID start that whole thing?