When I was 20 years old, I purchased a pair of tight, bright red pants during my semester abroad in Granada, Spain. Something about the months spent soaking up the Mediterranean sun, sharing paella with my Spanish family, perfecting my Spanish accent (almost), and enjoying sangria with my new friends, changed me. “Spain Alyssa” could do anything, including pulling off a pair of inappropriately bright and tight pants.
The red pants danced me through many late nights at the discotecas, and even made an appearance at the casino in Monte Carlo when my friends and I traveled to Monaco. Back in the USA, emboldened by the new, independent “Spain Alyssa,” the pants and I accepted drinks from cute boys at Barleycorn and Kincaid’s before packing up and heading south to Champaign, where our flirtation and fun continued all across campus. We went together to New Orleans to cheer on the Fighting Illini at the Sugar Bowl, and to New York City to celebrate my birthday.
After college, the red pants made fewer appearances. My wardrobe budget was allocated to work-appropriate clothing. Our final night out was New Years Eve 2003, when my boyfriend, now husband, told me he loved me for the very first time. A pair of pants couldn’t do much more for me than that. I hung them up later that night, and there they stayed, untouched.
Each year as I purged the closet of unworn, old clothes, I would inevitably come across my red pants. I tried them on, danced them around my bedroom, patted myself on the back because they still fit, and hung them back up. The pants were not quite appropriate for me anymore, but I couldn’t bear to part with them.
The red pants followed me, unworn, from my Lincoln Park studio to our first place as husband and wife in Bucktown, and finally to suburbia, where they eventually shared back-of-the-closet space with nursing covers, maternity clothes, and other lesser-worn items.
During a more recent closet purge, I looked at the red pants with a bit of sadness. Since the last time I wore them, I got married, bought a house, commuted every day to work, and had a baby. “Spain Alyssa” was long gone, as was her carefree attitude and cute figure. While I wouldn’t trade the husband and baby for the life of “Spain Alyssa,” the pants reminded me that such an amazing part of my life was over. What was the point in holding on to them? I tossed them in the Goodwill bag.
Now, a year later, I wish I could have them back. If not for me, then to show my (theoretical) daughter how much fun I had when I was a 20-something. She’ll have to settle for some pictures. Meanwhile, I hold onto the hope that the pants were picked up by a young woman looking for a little adventure. I know they will show her a good time.