I love Old Navy. The bright, high industrial ceilings, the stacks and stacks of clothing entirely covering the walls to said high ceilings…I even love the slightly creepy but fashion forward mannequin family that greets you at the door. And I didn’t forget about the fake dog stationed around the store, although I am confused as to why he is always wearing a hat or sunglasses…but I digress.
I had my first of many happy experiences at the Old Navy in the Poughkeepsie Galleria in New York. Until I went to college, the closest I came to an Old Navy was through those annoying commercials, the jingle of which would get stuck in my head for the rest of the day (half-zip performance fleece!) And even though I didn’t know who the fashionable old lady with the huge black glasses was, (the late fashionista, Carrie Donovan) I knew I’d be doing pretty good if I looked like her at that age.
But I had never set foot in an Old Navy until my first full weekend living in New York. I was homesick and bored, still too new at school to have made many friends, so going to the mall on a chilly November weekend sounded like the perfect activity. Plus I had some money my parents gave me for such an occasion. (score!) With mouth agape, I stumbled through the brightly lit goliath of a store until I found the clearance section. And by section, I mean the back quarter of the store. It was HUGE!
As I started looking through the racks and racks of markdown clothing, I was almost breathless with the deals. Boot cut jeans for $6.97? Oh, and a cute sheer pheasant top for only $3? Why yes, I’ll take them both. I left the store that day delirious with the deals I scored, large shopping bags brimming with shirts and pants, and even a pair of flip flops (they were only a dollar!) although I wouldn’t be able to wear them outside for months. My trips to Old Navy became a bi-weekly experience, spending whatever left over money I had from my meager paycheck at a local coffee shop on the deals I could find.
After Rob and I got married, we would still frequent the clearance section at the Poughkeepsie Galleria Old Navy, making our nonexistent clothing budget stretch far. But it was not meant to last…once we moved out of New York the buzz started to fade. I still tried to recreate it, excitedly searching any Old Navy for the back portion of the store with the big red signs, only to be disappointed by the small selection and not-so-cheap prices. I stopped looking forward to shopping, only visiting a store when I absolutely needed something specific.
It was with this attitude that I found myself entering an Old Navy shortly after we moved to FL, in September 2009. I needed some new summer clothes desperately, particularly shorts. South Florida is hot year round, but truly horrible in August and September, something that my 280+ pound frame was unfortunately discovering. I previously had a “no shorts” policy, but desperate times called for desperate measures. After sweating through three pairs of jeans every day, I started my first shorts shopping trip, determined to find a pair of shorts that would not only fit my size 22 butt, but not make me feel too self conscience to leave the house.
I made a beeline for the clearance section, but was soon disappointed (again) by the lack of any “real” deals. If I was a size 10, I’d have been in luck, but could not find a stitch of clothing that could reasonably fit me. It was then that I stumbled on them…a pair of size 16 light washed jeans. I found the tag, and did a triple take…
Wha? That had to be a typo. I took the jeans to the checkout line, determined to show them their mistake, upon which they would thank me repeatedly for my amazing observation. But after a quick scan, both the associate and I were blown away…these jeans were in fact, only $.47. And yes, I’d like to buy them. Two quarters later, I left that Old Navy with a bounce in my step, and way too tight (but CHEAP!) jeans in my bag.
I came home, excited to show Rob my amazing steal, and while he was impressed with the price tag, he was a little amused that I could get THIS excited over a pair of jeans that had no way of fitting me.
So begins the tale of the $.47 jeans. No matter what happened in our lives, where we moved, the weight I lost (and gained back) those jeans came with me. They survived many purges in our closet, at least three yard sales, and 5 moves. They were always with my small pile of goal clothes, to be put on whenever I stumbled across them. When I first bought them, I couldn’t even get the pant leg over my calf. As I lost weight, they slowly started to come up further…first to my knee, then to my mid-thigh, back to the knee as I gained some of the weight back. When I lost enough weight to fit into size 16 jeans, they were the first ones I tried on. Of course, they didn’t fit, and I became convinced that I now knew why they were so cheap…they had to be the wrong size. But still, I kept the jeans. They were in the back of my closet, but I always knew they were there.
Three months ago, I was having a particularly bad day. I don’t remember why, just that I needed to throw things away in a angry girl, listening to angry girl music, moment. I found the jeans, tried one last time to put them on, and rolled them up into a ball when the zipper wasn’t even close to closing. It was time. They got angrily tossed into a trash bag, along with some other fat clothes I was sick of looking at. “Let someone else be excited about these stupid jeans!”
And still, I went back for them. (I really am a sucker for a good deal)
Once the weight started coming off for good through juicing, exercising, and eating only real food, I kept trying on the jeans, knowing that one day, soon, they just HAD to fit. Even when all my size 16 pants were too big and falling off my newly discovered hipbones, the 47 cent jeans were still too tight to comfortably wear.
And finally, yesterday, I tried them on, and this happened…
Almost five years later, countless miles traveled, 89 pounds lost, and the stinkin jeans fit! And they fit well, mind you. If someone competent was here to take a picture of the jeans (instead of my poor attempt at a lower half selfie, holding onto the tablet with one hand while trying to keep nosy little Evan out of the picture with the other hand) I would venture to say that they make my butt look quite…lovely.
I know that I just spent almost 1200 words telling you this tale about a pair of pants, but I feel like there is a moral to this story. These pants were like a little cheerleader in my closet, quietly urging me to make the changes I needed to get healthy. They are proof that I always knew I could lose the weight, and even though I tried a couple of times to give up on ever fitting in them, (just like the few times I gave up on being happy with myself) there was always something that made me go back, to take them out of the trash bag, to save them for when it might happen. They are a reminder that goals, no matter how far fetched they might seem at the time or how silly they sound to you, are completely attainable…as long as you never stop trying.
The ironic thing is, it’s still too hot outside to wear jeans, so back on the shelf (and into the moving box) they will go. Hopefully the next time I get them out again, they won’t fit because they’ll be too big.
Till next time…