the ballad of the vile grey sweatshirt

Oh, this goddamned sweatshirt. My ex has this sweatshirt, that is from its hood to its frayed ex-hem probably the vilest article of clothing the world has ever seen. Most hobos I see on the train wear clothing in better condition (and probably smelling only slightly worse) than this sweatshirt. It is grey but age and abuse have turned it into the kind of grey that just kind of looks like washing machine water. It’s a pullover, and the front kangaroo pocket is halfway ripped off. Both armpits have massive gaping holes at the seams. The front is covered in all manner of food stains (at least I fucking hope they’re food stains) from years of bagels, pasta, thai food, indian food, chinese food, sackett street wraps, smoothies, california rolls and whatever else he might decide to eat (usually first thing in the morning, and heated up loudly) and these stains will never come out no matter how much the sweatshirt is washed. For three years this sweatshirt was the bane of my existence.

Not only does it make my ex look like a junkie street person, the sweatshirt also fits him poorly–think 90s grunge redux nightmare (when his only pair of pants were a fading set of tapered jeans he looked extra cool). This is a person who sleeps in his clothes and then wears them again for days on end, and the sweatshirt is a natural result of this lifestyle (it took him going out with me to agree to put sheets on his bed; now that I am gone I give it about three weeks before he’s sheet-less again), and for three years all I wanted to do was incinerate that sweatshirt. Or rather, since I never wanted him to change a goddamned thing about himself, I wanted him to independently choose, on his own, to incinerate, eviscerate and/or defenestrate that goddamned fucking sweatshirt.

This, of course, just made him love the sweatshirt more. I once hid it at the bottom of the closet as he packed for a work trip to LA, but he noticed, and out of spite/hilarity, wore the sweatshirt on the plane. God, how I hated that sweatshirt. Now that we are splitskies, of course, it should come as no surprise that I can’t let the sweatshirt go. The day we broke up, I slept with it around my neck like a blankie-slash-noose, and today when I got home (he has vacated our former shared abode for another job in LA, so luckily for me I am out of the rent-a-hovel for the time being) the sweatshirt was folded up nicely on the bed, as some sort of warped, stained peace offering. I am obviously wary of idealizing this relationship–it certainly had its moments and it was definitely time to let it go–but the sweatshirt is haunting me like some sort of Poe-ish telltale heart.

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