Like most people, I own multiple pairs of jeans. Some of you have amassed such a collection that you have dedicated space in your closet just to hang up pair after pair of dark, light and every-shade-in-between denim. The collection keeps growing but if you have kept them past the return date, it’s probably because they’re all of acceptable quality and fit. After all, we need jeans for different occasions, different seasons, and sometimes, different moods. But somehow, on certain mornings, do you automatically reach for one of your old pairs even when there are plenty of newer options staring back at you? I do.
Dependable old friends are like your dependable old jeans. On days when it all seems like too much and you don’t want to suck it in, you reach for the pair that will give you the space to let it all hang out. They’ve forgiving, comforting, and have stretched to fit around your problem spots. Sometimes, they’re downright complimentary. Old jeans hide your flaws because they understand you. They’re not going to shout “unflattering area over here!” They love you just the way you are.
During this ridiculous year, I’ve reached for my old jeans a lot. It’s been a challenging season for different reasons for most people I know. This year felt like one long string of crises. The news got darker, and people became more vicious, and not just on social media. At least there was Taylor Swift’s Folklore. And reconnecting with old friends.
One of the best things that came out of 2020 is a group text that one of my oldest friends created early in the Spring. She had just returned from abroad with her family when the pandemic first hit. Though we were always in touch, the time difference often made it difficult to text consistently. Not anymore. Two additional decades-old friends rounded out the text group and we were off!
Oh the places we have gone in those text conversations since! Hilarious, sad, worried, encouraging, and hopeful words invaded my messaging app and filled me to the brim. We talk about everything. There was a long thread about non-stick pans, one with lots of care emojis in response to childhood traumas, and an in-depth discussion of potato chips, specifically the spicy kind you find in prison. One of us purchased those in bulk and then mailed packages of them out to the others.
After George Floyd died, we shared a flurry of articles, trying to process it together as Asian American women thinking and feeling our way through how we should respond. The frustration, the sadness, and the confusion over what was happening and how our spiritual communities were or were not responding peppered our exchanges for months, and still do. We shared links to podcasts, sermons, speakers, and articles that helped us navigate the terrain. “This is a good one,” we’d say. “This is kind of long, but an interesting take,” someone else would share. “This one is harsh, but I completely agree.”
Sometimes we talk about our kids. I don’t think we meaningfully mentioned our children for the first six months after reconnecting. It’s nice to have friends who knew me before I was a wife and a mom, people who remember my parents and my brother and the rickety car I drove in high school. Old jeans are so comfortable.
Still, I know it’s not realistic to avoid adding new jeans to your wardrobe. We need new jeans too. Moving around means starting over. And starting over means I’ve had to make new friends in adulthood, time and again. It’s not always easy to do, especially if you’re a mom of young children. I remember when I couldn’t string three minutes together during a playdate to have a real conversation with another mom without a tiny person needing my attention. But we have to keep up with the seasons and try something new, so we forge ahead and eventually, those minutes pay off.
I still love my old jeans but the reality is that sometimes, we have old jeans that we should toss. They might have always been ill-fitting. Maybe they make you feel terrible and that’s why you don’t wear them much anymore. It’s OK to move on. The great thing is that new jeans that fit well will someday become old jeans too!