My Periwinkle Fleece

In August 2006 my daughter Jessica and I took a road trip from Colorado to Oregon where I was going to deposit her at Pacific University, a small private school in the cute little town of Forest Grove. My credit card and I would be there for a few days, making sure she had what she needed, then I’d turn around and drive home.

I decided she and I needed some alone time, and it was impractical (and probably foolhardy) to leave her younger brothers on their own without full parental guidance, so my husband sat out this adventure.

We had such fun over those several days! CD player loaded with Broadway soundtracks. Singing at the top of our lungs. List of places to stop for native Road Food and infamous local restaurants. A map of all the cool stuff we’d see along our route. Tree growing out of a rock in the middle of a lonesome highway in Wyoming. World’s Biggest Ball of Twine. A geyser in Soda Springs, Idaho. A giant statue of Abe Lincoln’s head. Carnivorous lilies. A huge bronze pyramid, built so early rail passengers could see something entertaining on their journey. Yeah, we had fun.

On moving in day, we barely got parked before a horde of students swarmed the car and emptied it of all traces of my daughter, whisking her away to her new life.

We did the parent/student orientation stuff, partook of the Welcome Barbecue, met lots of people, explored Forest Grove. The campus is in the center of town, and reminded me so much of my experience at virtually the same college in California.

One of the things I needed, though, was a light jacket because I was heading home through Ashland, Oregon where I was going to spend a few days at the Shakespeare Festival. Lots of the venues were outdoors, and I figured I’d get chilly in the evening.

We stumbled on a Goodwill store where I found a periwinkle fleece made by Speedo. I wasn’t wild about the color, but it was my only option, so I plunked down my three dollars and bought it.

When it was time for me to leave Jessica, I walked around that lovely campus and was so happy for her. She was exactly where she wanted to be. Her adventure was just beginning.

And so was mine.

The Shakespeare Festival was fantastic and I saw a ton of great plays. But my first morning there I really missed my daughter. You see, it was her job in the motels to set the clock radios and make sure they didn’t blare full-blast when they rang. But because she wasn’t there to handle this important job, nobody handled it. That first morning, the alarm was full-blast and—quite literally—launched me out of bed, across the large room, and to the floor where I immediately began laughing, and still do every time I think about it. It’s even funnier knowing that I reminded her to check the volume every single night.

My periwinkle fleece was perfect for the festival. An excellent purchase.

There was a detour on the rural state highway outside of Ashland when I finally had to leave. It wound me through increasingly smaller forest roads, and I got lost. I didn’t mind, though, because it was such a magical place. If I would have had my car engulfed by a full contingent of flitting fairies, or passed a merry band of dwarves on their way to work in the diamond mine, I would not have been surprised. I pulled over to think and my periwinkle fleece kept me warm under the forest canopy sunlight couldn’t hope to permeate.

I only had one scary moment on this trip. When I reached the tiny town of Kemmerer WY, it was late, almost dark. I hadn’t worried about getting a motel room because I knew there were two or three places to stay (since we stayed there on the way to Oregon) and since it was during the week, finding a room shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. During the week is when all the wildcatters work in the oil fields and fill the motels. Due to the kindness of a stranger, I got the last room in town. While she phoned around, I huddled in my periwinkle fleece, being anxious.

I still wear that periwinkle fleece. Almost every day. It’s getting thin and has a couple of holes beginning to wear through on the cuffs. It’s usually covered in hair, some of it mine, but most of it Nala’s.

Every so often I marvel at everything I didn’t know when I bought it. I didn’t know how very much my daughter would thrive at school. I didn’t know she’d never live in Colorado with us again. I couldn’t have imagined both my boys joining the Navy. It would never have occurred to me that in my enormous family, we’d find a long-lost nephew and that he’d fit in with us in the blink of an eye. I had no idea that tumor was growing inside my spine. And the pandemic? Not on my radar.

My periwinkle fleece has helped write most of my books and blog posts, including this one. It was with me when I signed all of my publishing contracts. It has kept me company over the course of enjoying many books and libations on my patio, lazing away entire afternoons.

Would I believe anyone who told me what my periwinkle fleece and I would see over the years? Would I believe anyone who told me that it would still be an actual, wearable garment fifteen years later?

It seems my periwinkle fleece just might last longer than I do. And if that’s the case, I’m willing it to my daughter. Or maybe the Speedo museum.

Do you have anything you’ve kept over many years and still use? What does it represent to you? Do people mock you? Is it covered in dog hair?

58 thoughts on “My Periwinkle Fleece

  1. What a lovely piece! I have a green sweater that has to be 40 years old and is still in fabulous shape. I’m sure it will outlive me too. Lately, as a woman of a certain age (hot flash central) I rarely wear it anymore. But yesterday, as my post-second-covid-jab chills set in, I dug it out. Not only is it warm, but it’s also the clothing version of comfort food. I wore it all day and was snug and warm.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Thanks, Annette, and “comfort clothing” is exactly right. The perfect description. That same daughter wore her father’s college sweatshirt for years, and probably still has it. Sentimental AND comfy!

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I have a purple fleece that I bought for $10 from a street vendor near the Golden Gate Bridge back in 2000. It was our first trip west of the Mississippi River. We went with friends out to Oakland, CA to attend the graduation of their daughter from the Lutheran Seminary. Like your fleece, I wear it often and it could tell some stories. Yesterday, it signaled to the wild turkeys in my yard that the purple lady with the corn was outside and they came running for their breakfast. Good memories.
    Carol

    Liked by 7 people

      1. Jen, I was in Chicago for work, standing around a group of 10 or 15 co-workers waiting to go somewhere and my dress blew up over my head. I’m sure there were many nightmares over the ensuing years.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. What a grand adventure you had! Several decades ago I bought a hand-woven, chenille, buttonless, unconstructed jacket at a crafts fair. I’m a sucker for texture and it was sooooooo soft. The predominant color is teal with a few contrasting threads of white, black and the most perfect apriocot/peach. It has become the basis of my signature, go to, dress up outfit for…for forever. I still get compliments on it. However, I also bought the matching beret/tam. THAT I do not wear anymore. When I put it on, I mock me.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. LOL, Pam! About 10 years ago I bought a cardigan on ridiculous sale (like they paid me to take it away) solely because it was soft. It’s about two sizes too big for me, but it’s SO SOFT! And I hear you about the beret. I’m so not a hat person. I blame it on my hair these days, but in retrospect, I can’t remember ever wearing a hat except as a joke.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have been informed by many that I am “not a hat person.” Not sure what that means–even my Sox hat is apparently ill-fitting, and I never get the brim right. What is wrong with my head?

        Liked by 1 person

    2. That sounds like an amazing jacket!!

      Once I wore a beret skiing because I had lost my normal hat and every time I caught up with my family members, they’d start giggling. Guess I wasn’t pulling it off. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Aw, what a sweet post! And I love the pics of you with your daughter. I do have some old items of clothing I still wear. No dog hair, but lots of cat hair. (I think this is the first I’ve heard of your spine tumor. Not sure what that means for you, but I hope everything turns out okay.)

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Becky, love this story! My sister and I have made a few road trips singing our hearts out. (When there were no kids or menfolk in the car to complain!)
      I have a red fleece hoodie I wear whenever I’m feeling under the weather. It’s my chicken soup hoodie!

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Vickie, a chicken soup hoodie sounds awesome! As long as it’s not made out of chicken soup that is. I saw on the news last night that at a Rockies game some fan caught a ball in the stands but it covered him in his nacho cheese first. The team trotted out a new team hoodie to him and bought him more nachos. I wonder if that hoodie will become something he holds on to forever.

        I love a good road trip and if anyone takes one without singing at the top of their lungs, they’re doing it wrong!

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Thanks, Marla. My surgery was in January 2017. Benign, all is well. Just some residual numbness.

      I went to dogsit for my sister and BIL before we got Nala, and long after our dearly departeds departed. I’d forgotten about dog hair and was appalled—APPALLED—by the amount of dog hair on their fleece jackets. I laugh now when I think about it because it was probably a fraction of what’s on mine right now. But that fleece, man. Grabs hold and won’t let go!

      Liked by 5 people

  5. Dear Becky, Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories and the joy of your fleece! For me, I have a red, loosely knitted sweater that I bought sometime before 1984. I know this because I wore it on our honeymoon that year. As my weight grew over the years, I didn’t put it on any more but my husband really liked it so it stayed on a shelf in my closet. Now, having used ‘COVID world’ as a reason to lose, not gain, weight, it will fit again. I’m looking forward to trying on this old friend with all those memories attached. Thanks again for your lovely post… Ruth

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Hi Ruth! We got married in 1984 too! I love that you can be reunited with your red sweater again. (I, too, was happily surprised that a pair of jeans I thought were goners fit just fine. Too bad I’m not wearing real clothes very often…) Like you, I have a shelf where I keep sentimental clothes, mostly t-shirts, but also my college sweatshirt. I should give them a look-see!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Becky!
    I love your story about taking Jessica to college. Reminds me of taking my Ali to her first day @ Temple. (I didn’t buy a jacket- since we only lived about an hour from Temple, but I did burst into tears when I made it back to my car after dropping her off and rummaged for all of the tissues and napkins my car held!) I’d say the one thing that portrayed me that I used to wear were my rollerskates. That ruled from the time I was 12 until I became pregnant with Ali at 22. I turned into a competitive skater, and if you wanted to find me, I was usually at the local rink for either practice or a session. These days, unfortunately, I can no longer skate. Too many foot/leg/health problems. I sometimes longingly look at the last pair that I bought. Good days- awesome memories. I’m good with that. I hope you’re doing well and the tumor is behind you completely. I had no idea you went through that, and I sure hope it’s nothing that is current or recurrent.
    Tracy

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks, Tracy. I guess I just figure that I’ve talked so much about my tumor over the years that everyone is on board, but clearly that’s not the case. It was dramatic at the time, hilarious and horrible, but all is well. Here’s something I wrote about it you might find amusing …. https://beckyclarkbooks.com/2018/01/19/its-all-fun-and-games-until-someone-gets-a-scalpel-in-their-back/

      I love that you were a competitive skater. I was firmly in the amateur category, but I LOVED it. My friend’s family owned a skating rink just down the street from my house so that’s where you’d find me every Saturday morning. In the opposite direction was a junior high with this big open quad area in the middle with a ton of stairs and I loved flying down those! It horrifies me now, how easily I could have either broken my neck or lost my skate key. It would be cool to see those skates again, but how I longed for fancy shoe skates!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Tracy, I was a competitive skater also (figure, not roller). Last year I had just had my skates from my teens refurbished and stretched, and was all set to hit the rink (or, perhaps more fittingly, my butt?) again, but…pandemic. Sigh.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Lisa, is skating like riding a bike … once you learn it always stays with you? I tried ice skating a few times, but I’ve got a tremendously wobbly set of ankles, which surprised me. I mean, I get that roller skates have a firmer base, but apparently that is not a venn diagram I can make!

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Becky, adored your post! I felt as if I were traveling right along with you. (Also, I always joke about the world’s biggest ball of twine, but…it’s real? I had no idea.) Had to chuckle, though, because you’re always trying to tell us you’re not in the least sentimental. I have more “cozy” clothes than I care to admit–even my skating sweaters from high school. Those Deans and Fair Isles just never give out…If the 70s come back in fashion, I’m all set. (The turtlenecks are new, though.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hmm. I’m an old softie, but I’m not romantic, maybe that’s what I meant. And it’s not that I set out to save this fleece, but the darn thing won’t wear out! If it had fallen apart within a few years, I probably would have tossed it without a thought. But jeez … it’s almost like an extra two arms or something!

      I bet the skating sweaters are gorgeous. Were they crazy expensive, too? Someone was telling me how very expensive those Irish step dancing outfits are. Even the socks are like $20/pair!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh, they’re just regular sweaters. I did have fancy competition dresses, though, like the Irish dancers. Those sweaters I basically wore to school and then switched out my cords for a short Danskin skirt (tons of colors), tights, and leotard-type bottoms for modesty. Back in the day, all the female skaters wore skirts or skating dresses. No legging things. Now they have a lot more options, of course. Much better materials, too, ha.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Everything I own is covered in dog hair. And I’m one of those people who can’t throw away clothes, even after they have so many holes they’d be illegal to wear outdoors. Just yesterday, a neighbor commented to me, “Looks like your dog got to those shorts,” pointing at the massive tears in the leg. But they’re soft and comfy, and they fit PERFECTLY! How can you throw something like that away?

    Oh, and “My Periwinkle Fleece” would make for a great title for an alt rock song…

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That’s hilarious, Leslie! And the answer, of course, is that you absolutely CAN’T throw something like that away!

      Next time we’re together, let’s write a song. I already have my stage outfit!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such a beautiful post, Becky! Thank you. Love love love the memories. (As someone staring down the college drop-off in the near future and already finding myself tearing up at inopportune moments about it, now I know that I need to get a jacket to get me through it!!)

    Have never felt that way about a jacket or sweater (yet) but I did love a pair of shoes beyond all reason: platform sandals from Roots that I bought in Toronto while doing research there one summer that were stylish, comfortable, went with everything, and made me feel good. Someone (not me) moved a piece of furniture across one of them, which sliced it right in half! I actually wept.

    Anyway, I hope your daughter gets to read this post and remember your amazing trip together. Love the pictures of you two. xoxo

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Cynthia. I was actually thinking about you while I was writing it. I never really cried after any of my kids left home. Sure, I missed them and that life we used to lead—still do—but it felt selfish and over-indulgent for me to feel sorry for myself when they were excited to be off beginning their lives. That was my job, after all, to push them out of the nest.

      Your shoe story stabs me right in the heart! I had two pairs of shoes that I LOVED—one a red soft leather bowling shoe, the other looked like Mary Poppins’—and after Jessie was born, my feet changed shape or size or something and they were never comfortable again. I mourn their loss. Shall we start a shoe support group?

      We actually talk about that trip a lot, and she reminded me of a couple of things we saw along the way, after consulting her journal!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I still have my son’s Pooh bear blanket he had as a baby. He’s jut turned 50. I gave it to a friend for her daughters. She returned it to me about 10 years ago.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Aw, Linda … that’s so sweet! I know someone who made a quilt out of a bunch of her kids’ old blankets and clothes. Seemed like a great way to renew them and put them on display.

      Like

  11. What a wonderful story, Becky, and great photos! I did a road trip through Oregon once and regret not going to Ashland.

    I actually own a fleece jacket with a very similar color (maybe more blue-ish). Like I said above, I have an old comfy college sweatshirt, complete with mascot, that I still keep around. I’ve also, interestingly, kept this wooden barrette over the years. It came from a short weekend trip I took when visiting my brother who was temporarily working in Oregon (again with that state!).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Jen. I’d love to go back to the Shakespeare Festival, but the town itself is very cute too. Jessie and I got totally lost in Bend, and I think of Kathy laughing at me as we keep missing our exit. Around and around we went …

      The photo didn’t do the periwinkle justice. It’s way more blue than purple. Maybe we’re twinsies!

      I find it fascinating the things people keep. Even if you never wear it again, that barrette will always remind you of that weekend. It’s like being able to tangibly hold something intangible. I love that idea!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Road trip, Kathy!! If I’d have known you back then, Jessie probably wouldn’t have made it to college. Or I would have said, “Here, honey, just take my keys. I’ll be back to pick up my car at graduation.”

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Becky, you’ve written the post I dreamed of writing someday! All about the sweater I borrowed from my dad to wear to a concert during freshman year of high school that I still have, cherish, and wear, holes and all. Every time I look at the sweater, I remember taking it from his closet and getting his approval to “borrow” it. I have no idea how old the sweater was at the time, but it’s decades older now!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s a great memory, Ellen! I said earlier that I don’t keep a lot of things, but the ones I do, I make sure my kids know WHY I’ve held on to something for so long. Then when they have to sort through my crap, at least they’ll know and remember the story before they toss it in the trash. LOL! So make sure your daughter knows about that sweater so she can do the same!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Awwwwwww, Becky! I think my heart grew three sizes reading this post. I heart it so very much. What a gorgeous, heart-warming story.

    I also laughed out loud at the twine mention as it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Vacation: “Or perhaps you don’t want to see the second-largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away.”

    I don’t currently have such a cherished item, but I DID have a denim gauchos-and-vest outfit (yes, all of those words go together) that I loved with an unreasonable passion back in the 70s. (happy sigh)

    If you venture through Oregon again, please get lost with me!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I can absolutely picture the gaucho-and-vest outfit and if I saw it in real-time, I would have been very, very jealous! Tell you what. You and I will take a road trip and find that second largest ball of twine, and then we’ll go visit Carhenge, somewhere I keep meaning to go. https://carhenge.com/

      You in??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gauchos!! Wow. And I’m sorry, Becky, and Jen, but I checked that link and I am totally creeped out by Carhenge. It looks like an alien landing spot.

        Liked by 1 person

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