SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE
By June Mathews
I’m in a panic.
My favorite pair of sweatpants is coming apart at the seams and my favorite TV-watching blanket has become a series of holes held together by threads. After years of use, both items have been loved and laundered to death and I’m having a hard time letting go.
When it comes to clinging to scraps of fabric for security, Charlie Brown’s little friend, Linus, and I have a lot in common.
As the weather began to warm last spring, it occurred to me that maybe I should stuff the sweatpants and blanket into a trash bag and donate them to the local landfill
. The seasonal change, I figured, would be a good time to make the break. I’d miss neither item during the summer and by the time cold weather returned, their absence wouldn’t seem so traumatic.
But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. While the practical side of me saw the irreparable threadbare effects of use and age, the delusional (and yeah, tightwad) side of me argued they could make it through one more winter. As is often the case, the delusional side of me won.
So I stashed the sweatpants in a bottom drawer of the dresser and placed the blanket in its summer cubbyhole underneath the entertainment center, confident I’d made a wise and frugal decision. Except that I’m going to be mighty cold this winter unless I find suitable replacements.
I’m convinced all this angst has to do with security issues, even though I’m not exactly sure what those issues are and when they might have taken root.
I suspect they’re somehow connected with the green baby blanket I carried until I was five years old. It, too, was well loved, but in contrast to my over-washed sweatpants and current-day security blanket, my childhood blanket was laundered no more than I could help. Letting Mama have it long enough to run it through the washer and dryer distressed me to no end.
When my great-grandmother commandeered it long enough to embroider it with tiny red flowers for identification purposes (like anyone else would want a dirty blanket), I thought I would surely die before I got it back.
It went everywhere I went and, as with my sweatpants and TV blanket, I nearly loved it to pieces.
But before that could actually happen, I stopped carrying it – cold turkey – when Granddaddy Flowers convinced me that none of the other kids at Miss Lee’s Kiddie Kollege (Class of ‘63) would be dragging a blanket along to kindergarten. Somewhat of a crowd-follower back then, I didn’t dare buck the system, so I bravely put the blanket aside.
While I had every intention of continuing to secretly cling to the tattered scrap in the privacy of my room, the habit was broken. I never picked it up again.
Well, not to obsessively carry it around, anyway. Years after I was grown, Mama handed me a carefully wrapped piece of fabric with raveled threads around the edges and barely a visible trace of green left from all the wear.
My heart leaped in recognition. She’d saved my blanket! It was neither as big as I’d remembered nor as soft. But it was my precious blanket, nevertheless. And for the record, it was clean.
I brought my treasured possession home and reverently laid it in my cedar chest, where it lies in repose to this day. But I’m thinking it might be time to pull it out again.
With the current trauma over my sweatpants and TV blanket, I feel the need for a little security coming on, and unless I miss my guess, my old childhood blanket would be just the thing to provide it.
Email June Mathews at email@example.com.