Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Belt

Belts were not a part of my wardrobe during my early and mid teens. After the weight gain of puberty and early adolescence, I loathed the idea of an accessory that consistently let me in on how large my stomach was at any given moment. And as I spent most of high school being a masochist and buying clothes that were a smidge too small in hopes that the discomfort would push me into weight loss, my middle section did a pretty admirable job of holding my pants in place.

But during my first year of college, due to stress, unhappiness and an unwavering allegiance to the gym, I lost weight. A belt became a necessary stopgap measure between the old pants that were sliding past my hips with ease and the new ones that I would have to break down and buy eventually. (By that point I lived in pretty constant fear of suddenly waking up 15 pounds heavier and having nothing to wear because I had gotten rid of all of my old clothes. My rather rational mind can sometimes be overrun by ridiculous thoughts.) As was often the case in those days, I ran across to the local Gap to try and solve my problem.

For nearly a decade since, I’ve placed the same belt through the loops of various pairs of pants. I never knew that I was capable of such allegiance. The Belt is rather utilitarian. Dark brown leather. Over an inch in width. Five notches. At notch three there is considerable wear, though two and four have had their day. It is marked by signs of overuse. The buckle has begun to tarnish. There are loose threads along the stitching. At a stretch along the middle, it curls outward.

Since The Belt entered my wardrobe, I’ve bought many others. Wide, waist cinchers. Thin, woven ornaments. On a coat stand that is no longer a coat stand, all of the belts hang alongside various purses past their prime.

Yet when I get dressed in the morning, I always reach for the same one. I’ve tried many times to replace it. To find a belt that is simple and useful and reasonably priced. But I keep running into little wisps of leather that could barely be called belts or those littered with studs and dyed bright, candy colors. Some of those outliers have found their way home with me, but what I need to replace The Belt is simplicity and utility.

I have yet to find it.

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