A peculiar thing happens when you lend a sweater to someone– once they wear it, it’ll never be the same again. The arms and torso will be stretched out in a foreign way, and it’ll be infused with their scent. If they wash it before they return it, their smell will be even more apparent; the aroma of their laundry detergent may not fade for years to come, no matter how many cycles you spin it through. And if you lose this person, their smell on your clothes will be a faint reminder of what used to be, good or bad.
Back in my freshman year of high school, I had a friend that was essentially my clone; we dressed the same, talked the same, and even had the same hairstyle. Whatever she had, I would buy a copy of, and vice versa. We went through freshman year shadowing each other, and as the year progressed, her true domineering nature emerged, and she quickly became the dictator of our friendship. She took control of everything, from what we should or should not have in our closets to what we liked or disliked. Although I put strenuous effort into trying to please her by having matching wardrobes with her, there was this one plain black sweater with the softest inside lining that we both adored but couldn’t find two exact copies of, no matter where we looked. This was most likely because we found it in a local thrift shop, and it was manufactured by some obscure company that probably didn’t exist for long, so we ended up sharing it. Well, not really-sharing is too nice of a word. She hogged it all the time, and her overt selfishness was what encouraged me to cut off all ties with her. The day she finally got the hint that I wanted nothing to do with her anymore, she made a huge scene in front of my house and threw the sweater we used to share in my face. Even though I lost a friend that day, at least I gained a sweater out of it, which I think is a pretty sweet deal.
Although it used to be my favorite, I don’t wear that sweater anymore. It’s lying somewhere in the depths of my closet, untouched ever since the day I stopped talking to that girl. It fits me awkwardly, since it was molded and shaped to her body and not mine. It also reeks of ex-bestfriend, and the stench won’t go away. That stink is a strong reminder of days when I was dependent on her for direction, when I happily followed her every word like an obedient little puppy. Looking back, I had no free will of my own while I was friends with her; I silently consented to having her dominate every aspect of my life, from what I wore to what I listened to. I keep our sweater as a spiteful memento of the days when I permitted others to control me. It’s a constant reminder to never let someone like her into my life ever again, and to maintain my individuality, because nothing tastes more bitter than losing parts of yourself from allowing others to force their own ideas and interests down your throat.
Cera Lee is a writer and student based in Burke, VA.