While my husband and I dined out last December, a woman approached our table, then stopped. “Excuse me, but may I ask you where you bought your sweater? It’s stunning.”

“Thank you. This is my favorite sweater and it’s nearly thirty years old. Unfortunately, the shop where I found it has been gone for a number of years.”

The woman smiled. “That’s too bad. It must have been a lovely shop. Enjoy wearing it.” She walked away.

She hadn’t been the first to compliment me on the sweater. It was beautiful and she was right about the shop. It had been a wonderful place to relax and browse. It was long gone, but some memories linger.

Later that night, lying in bed, I recalled that September day when I bought the sweater. I was in a small local boutique that had recently opened. Janice, the owner, and I had connected and were on our way to becoming friends. While browsing, I spotted the sweater on a mannequin. It was love at first sight. Hand-knit in Uruguay, pure wool and very heavy, perfect for our cold Northeast winters. It was black with a small paisley pattern of maroon, sage green, grey and beige on the front and back and a larger pattern across the top of each shoulder. I knew we were meant for each other. The problem was that the two fitting rooms were taken, with women waiting. I needed to pick up my son from daycare soon so I asked Janice if I could buy it, but return it if it didn’t fit. She told me to take it and if it fit, bring her a check tomorrow.

As soon as I got home, I put it on. It was perfect, with plenty of room for a turtleneck underneath. I had to justify the hefty price tag of $75. A deal today, but pricy back then. I decided to buy it anyway.

I returned to the shop the following afternoon, check in hand. I paid Janice and we chatted for a few minutes, then I left. I recall walking across the parking lot towards my car.

I heard a woman call out to me. I stopped and turned around. It was Janice. She was standing outside the door to her shop.

“Next time lady, bring me a check that doesn’t bounce from here to China,”
Janice yelled at the top of her lungs.

Appalled, I wanted to hide under the nearest car, but then I watched as she began to double over with laughter. I still wanted to hide. Thankfully, the parking lot was nearly deserted. I soon forgave her and quickly learned she had a wicked sense of humor.

For nearly 30 winters I have worn that sweater and enjoyed every minute. During the last 13 years we’ve been wintering in Florida so the opportunity to wear it has been much less. Some days in the fall, I secretly wish it would turn frigid for a day or two so I could wear my lovely sweater again. I feel we are good friends.

These days we‘re not going out anymore, because, well, there’s no place to go, and It’s a bit too warm to wear inside. But tonight it’s supposed to be really cold. I think I’ll go and put it on.

“Oh boy. She’s coming. Maybe she’s going to wear me again. It’s been almost a year and I’ve missed her. She treats me well and when we go out together, people tell her how much they love me. It really warms my heart. I was so glad when she brought me home. Lord, how I hated all those women trying me on, pulling this way and that, tossing me around like I was some kind of rag. But not her. She treated me with respect. Oh, I think she’s going to wear me again. Oh, happy day. And she taking a few of my little “pills” off first. That tickles. But it shows she really loves me. I love her too.”

As I pick up my sweater, I take a good look at it. Other than taking off a few pills, It looks almost new. Maybe because it’s gotten a “vacation” for the past twelve years, it’s remained in such good condition.

As I pull it on over my head, I realize I truly love this sweater. It feels like a warm hug from a friend. I must wear it more often.

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