Something Borrowed

Luisa had a favorite sweatshirt, black with red lettering that said Carnegie Mellon Field Hockey. It was big, incredibly soft from wear and so comfy. I loved that sweatshirt almost as much as she did and I wanted to wear it all the time. It felt, in some ways, like the lesbian equivalent of wearing a boy's class ring or varsity jacket. It was special to me because it was special to her and it represented love and connection. In 1994, I was working in a residential treatment facility for adolescents who were chemically dependent and, when I lovingly referred to them as "juvenile delinquents", I really wasn't far off. These kids were one step away from lock-up. One fateful day that year, I was packing to go on an overnight camping trip with the little darlings and I put her sweatshirt in my bag. She told me that I couldn't take it because I might lose it. I told her that I wouldn't lose it. She said that I might. I dismissed her and I took it anyway. That moment says so much about who we were as individuals and as a couple back then. It does not reflect well on me but I was 24, defiant, and sometimes simply an ass. You know where this story is going...I did not come home from that camping trip with the sweatshirt - one of the kids stole it. It has been 14 years since that humbling incident but the Sweatshirt still comes up occasionally. When it does, we smile slyly at each other - an acknowledgement of our complex past, of how much we have grown and changed. A cherished sweatshirt, lost and irreplaceable...a book borrowed and dropped in the tub...a sweater borrowed, washed and accidentally shrunk.  These are the things that happen in any long-term relationship, friendship or otherwise. These are the plot points in the narrative of a life shared with another person. There are the shared jokes, emotional turning points, and those mistakes for which you remain accountable as the years go by. This becomes your shared history, that which binds you together and gives you the sense that you truly know another and, in return, are truly known as well.