“what is Real?” asked the Rabbit…

Years back, shortly after my experience with cancer and chemotherapy, an on-line acquaintance re-introduced me to a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It was a brilliant allegory to the inward awakening I experienced during chemotherapy, as well as a statement of the trend toward superficiality and youth culture in the gay community…

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

It would seem that I have hit an epiphany in my work toward becoming an integrated being that has even brought this idea of loving until ragged into my manner of dress as well. There is something I love of old things; they were produced to last forever, even if not in a perfect state of being. A new friend has introduced me to the idea of showing off a piece of clothing’s flaws; its worn trophies of love; its process of becoming Real.

detail 02 - low-res
darning detail
detail 01 - low-res
button detail
detail 03 - low-res
darning detail

This sweater proved to be the perfect complimentary addition to my growing wardrobe; I have arrived at the point of my thrifting-for-clothes excursion that I have become more scrutinizing over the pieces I bring home, making a conscious effort to fit each well to the things already living in the closet. A trip into the closet yielded three to four casual button-down shirts in the red/brown ranges that fit the sweater perfectly, so I went with red as the accent color for swapping out the buttons and darning the handful of tiny moth holes. The tight knit of the sweater allowed for consistent rectangular patches that made a great visual pattern of the piece.

I swapped out buttons on one of the shirts as well; a red paisley print. It has some damaged buttons, so I picked out a set I had saved from some twenty-five cent shirts and sewed them in place with a matching red embroidery floss, opting for cross patterns instead of parallel stitches. I also replaced the original plastic faux-leather buttons with real leather buttons, using the same red floss.

I am beyond happy with the results; it is a sweater made for a skin horse like me…

A thing like this does not stop being beautiful just for getting holes loved into it. I hope to find a life full of such things in my travels through the world.

Journey on, my lovelies!

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