This is one of the only times I’ve seen an item of clothing in a magazine, and then gone out and bought it. Often my clothing ideas come from instinct, not trends, although fashion obviously permeates everyone’s wardrobe if only through what’s out there. Embarrassingly, someone I’d just met had read the article about dip-dye clothing too, and nailed me for taking inspiration from a weekend supplement.
I bought this online just before a trip to France, and wore it for most of the weekend. It was during an “off” period in the seesaw on/off relationship I was in from 2009 through till early 2012. I was trying to break free from a girl who, at that point, loved me desperately, but we created nothing but explosive chemistry. Nothing seemed easy, from spending a night in, to deciding when to go to sleep, to choosing a restaurant. I didn’t trust her any more, with good reason, and despite us hanging in there, my distrust was grinding down her self-esteem; she was drinking more and feeling increasingly unloved and isolated, trying harder and harder to draw me back with gestures that to me felt hollow. Arguments lurked and simmered beneath the surface of everything. Antagonism was in her blood.
So, I’d broken it off, and withdrawn into myself for a while - that involuntary, defensive emotional flinch action some people have, in which hurt is swallowed and numbness kicks in as a coping mechanism. I hoped that perhaps the space might do us good, and maybe we’d reconnect in the future, healed and happier.
But in this period of reflection and renewal, someone else had turned my head, a friend and colleague, who seemed to represent the opposite of the problems I’d had. We had an easy connection, natural affection, and a soft-edged rapport, and we’d become close friends and confidantes. The first time we went out, it was to a gig in a room so full we couldn’t get in. She looked at me, smiled, took my hand, and led us into the packed crowd to a spot where we could see. This sweet gesture was enough to remind me that simple things don’t have to be so hard - I felt like I’d found someone with an open, honest heart, who instinctively was drawn towards being good rather than darkness and negativity. Spending time with her felt like a relief after the tension and heartache of what I’d just been through - she was kind, moral and open, someone to whom being free came easily, and she brought out the best in me, instead of the worst.
She came on the France trip that year, along with some journalists who I knew would be fun to hang out with. We had a really nice weekend, a group of new friends. We saw great music, breathed the sea air, were chauffeured around Brittany by the tourist board and fed oysters and local delicacies. We partied hard, meeting at the breakfast table grey-faced and hung over. We were caught in a torrential rainstorm one day and ran into a little restaurant to shelter, drinking pints that made English tankards look like shot glasses. We tripped over the legs of some people at our hotel in the dark, only to find it was The Rapture, trying to find a spot where they could get onto the hotel wi-fi. It was her birthday while we were away, so I brought her breakfast in bed - champagne, flowers, and a green amber bracelet tied up in a bow. We spent the day exploring the rocky coastline, beaches and city walls of St Malo. That night, we kissed at her hotel room door and said a smiling goodnight. On the last night of trip, we dozed for a few restless hours side by side, and on the ferry home, we slept in the depths of the hull, close and content in the tiny single bunk.
But back home, the magic wore off. She knew I was still very hurt and emotionally entangled, and sensibly withdrew. Working together became difficult - my heart hurt from being rejected, and hers from losing one of her closest friends. It was one of the key catalysts in my leaving that job, which had been making me unhappy for years, except for her company each day.
In the time since then, we’ve become friends again, and I’m glad, because it’s rare for two people to understand and enjoy each other so instinctively.
This cardigan was lost - on another trip, my case failed to make it onto the plane somehow, and was found destroyed on the runway in Helsinki. Perhaps it’s a rag now on a grassy verge somewhere in Finland, or was swept away and poured into a landfill. Or maybe it was even found, and kept, and worn.
I missed it so I bought another, which is already becoming worn and torn. Just today, I bought a third. I like this top too much to be without one.