Traveling Pants

Growing up, I had a favorite pair of flannel pajamas. Gray, black, and green plaid with big pockets and wide ankle openings. Entirely hideous, but for most of my teenage years, they dutifully filled their role in my repertoire of sleepwear. Imagine my surprise, then, to see this week old picture of my marathon running sister:

Yes ladies and gentlemen, these are/were my flannel pajamas. They are now probably 15 years old. Countless Saturdays growing up, I would pad around the house in these pjs, driving my mother completely insane to know that it was 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and I still "wasn't dressed." Through countless washings and gentle abuse, I nursed these pjs from their stiff and too tight initial state to their current status as an article of well worn comfort.

When I left for college, I decided they were far too unsophisticated for my new intellectual pursuits, so I left them home both as a memento and to be worn on those weekends when my presence would again grace the homestead. But, on one of these return visits, they were conspicuously absent from the cache of clothes I kept at home. It wasn't long until I discovered them on my sister. I saw this as the ultimate affront, and demanded that they be returned and freed from their ignominious fate as female sleepwear. The furtive cry I heard was, "But ... they're so comfortable...!"

I didn't care. Something about college had made their hideousness decidedly cool, so I took them with me for that first year of college. After that year, I went on my mission to Brazil. Given the climate and humidity, I assumed that flannel would not make suitable sleepwear, so I left them home, where there were again subject to rape and pillage by my siblings.

Upon my return, I had to cajole, coerce, and threaten to get most of my things back (I think I'm still missing CDs), but the pjs were already back into my dresser, neatly folded -- waiting to be worn. The borrower finally understood the magic of the pajamas. And that's why, several years later, and just a few months since her recently married self moved to Washington DC, I sent her those ghastly flannels. Maybe they played a role in her finishing the marathon in an amazing 4:20 (that's slightly under 10 minute miles, folks), but I can't really say.