On Blue Jeans and Life

essay on blue jeans and life daniel baylis

It’s time to break-up with my blue jeans. Despite a dynamic relationship that has stretched over two years — including a six-month elongation period thanks to some patches on the knees — this denim skin has reached its end point. Denim death is impending. The jeans have begun to shred apart in un-sewable ways, and the score of paint marks and red-dirt stains have moved these bottoms beyond “vintage-chic” into “tattered grubster” territory. I am one lunge away from a full-ventilation, bum-exposing tear. Which might be sexy in some situations. But I have a modest reputation to maintain.

You’ve probably had a great pair of blue jeans, and you know that — at the risk of being melodramatic — saying goodbye is quite difficult. I tend to avoid an immediate, painful goodbye by placing well-loved jeans at the back of my closet. Then, a year later, I pull them out and wonder why I’m still holding on to them. At this point, I’m ready to let go.

I have come to the endpoint of this specific pair of jeans, and a slow goodbye is not an option. I’m currently travelling, and the emotional luxury of clinging would only add weight to already heavy luggage. The burden of my backpack begins to chip away at my sentimentality, and after a couple of blocks of wobbling with all my possessions, its amazing how I can feel at ease with saying goodbye to the superfluous.

Gotta keep it light enough to travel.

These particular jeans are special because they have represented an exciting period in my life. When I started my job as a social media producer, these blue jeans were purchased for me to attend a special soirée. Over the next two years I wore them regularly, hoping that I might be mistaken for a dude with fashion sensibilities and a knowledge of what was hip. I don’t know if it worked for other people, but the jeans certainly helped to convince myself that I was stylish.  So now I say goodbye to my blue jeans, and perhaps stylishness as well.

My travels have become a series of goodbyes. Each month I meet wonderful people, and have moments of laughter and good conversation. And then there is a subsequent “cheerio” that inevitably follows, the awkward hug and kiss on the cheek and palpable element of the unknown.

When will we be together again? I never know the answer to this question.

I sometimes wonder how this continuous parting will affect me. Initially, I thought it was good. All this transitory-ness forced me into a practice of non-attachment. But now I look upon these short-term relationships with a certain neutrality in terms of my own psychological/spiritual impact. Buddhism (among other spiritual practices) teaches that non-attachment is a helpful strategy to avoid suffering. I’m realizing, however, that I don’t want my life to be constructed around an aversion to suffering. Am I going to keep my favourite pair of blue jeans on the shelf, for fear of having them stained? No, I’m going to wear the shit out of them.

I’m going through a specific period in my life, a lifestyle that is laced with temporary-ness. And there is value in it. I’m having various types of experiences in relatively short time frames. This provides rich opportunities for learning. There’s a romantic idea that I can have authentic and meaningful interactions with people, and then we can simply bid each other adieu.

Essentially, my travels have become a series of non-sexual social flings. I will love you — and then I will leave you. That’s how the reservation serves. It’s not vindictive. I do not act with any sort of malicious intent. Instead, each person knows that our time together is limited, and perhaps this provides the motivation to enjoy the relationship while it’s available.

And heck, that’s exactly what life is: a limited time frame to optimize meaningful experiences.

So whether these experiences come in the form of life-long companionships or two-hour friendships, I’m happy to have engaged. And to all the folks I’ve met so far, I am grateful for the candidness in conversation, the heartiness in the laughter and the sweetness of the stories. I salute the openness it takes to connect, despite knowing that our time together might be fleeting. Our time together is fleeting.

To my blue jeans, we had a good couple of years. Upon my return to Canada, I might just to take another stab at stylishness. 


(This article was first published in 2011.)

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