Monday, April 07, 2014

Pants (in the American sense)

When I moved to the woods, something happened to how I dress. Gray sweatshirts started to feature more prominently. Shoes became not merely city-walking compatible but poodle-in-woods-compatible, which is another whole level of comfortable. It's not that the previous incarnation had been all that haute - I was living in Paris and NY, but as a grad student and not in the finishing-school sense - but even so, the chances that I'd go out in sweatpants, loafers, and a puffy jacket were slim. I'd make some effort.

Here, I sort of figure, I probably won't see anyone who isn't a deer or squirrel, and everyone human I might see is someone who's seen me in the above-mentioned ensemble. And it would be kind of silly to dress up to write something from the couch at home. I know this is something people do, mimicking officewear for work not done in an office, but do these people's dogs require quite so much muddy exercise? And isn't the advantage of not-an-office the ability to wear sweatpants so old you don't remember if they're from Old Navy or Target?

But today, I was meeting a friend for lunch and thought, I'm going to wear the slightly uncomfortable pants. No, not the British meaning (WWPD has some discretion), just U.S. English for the black Zara jeans I ordered online without knowing the right size, and thus ordered in what's maybe half a size too small. Such that they look normal enough - the ubiquity of stretch is such that, really, how could they not - but are definitively pants and not sweatpants. To the outside world, I looked about as I always do - no 'why the dress, special occasion?' effect, and they're not even all that flattering - but I didn't feel like I was in pajamas.

And then, as the afternoon progressed, something happened. No, not corset-style fainting. A kind of burst of professional activity I'd wanted to catch up on. (Reminder to self: this will happen in the library or the coffee shop more often than at home.) And even a driving mini-adventure - that is, a trip to a strip-mall I'd never driven to alone before. I spent the day feeling very... not glamorous, exactly (it takes more than the Zara jeans for that), but competent. I leaned in, even if leaning in any particular direction posed some difficulty. My epiphany, it seems, is pants.

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