Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Down Comfort


On my Christmas list I had several things, the first thing I added was, “a high-end and high-quality down comforter.”  This was not because I thought that my lifetime companion-partner would cheap out and buy an inexpensive down comforter, it was that after seven years, I know how he would feel walking into the bedding department of the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond store. Scratching his head through his Hemi engine themed ball cap he would like to just point to my scribble of “high end” and the salesperson would get the hint.

I desired a new down comforter because the one on the bed was fourteen years old. It had traveled in my move to Dallas, then back again. It saw every life event in the last fourteen years and was now just a shadow of its former self.  In the last year, if you moved it just the wrong way a cannon of feathers would shoot out. A cascade or tickertape parade of down that would cover the dog an anything else the multiple holes were aimed towards. Parts of the ghost comforter where completely empty of down, just sad yellowing cotton held together by my determination.

I was odd how easily the request topped my Christmas list, as the ghost comforter did; at one point; mean the world to me. 

In the fall of 1996 I was planning to set up house for my first, real relationship. We had decided to move in together and were scurrying like happy, gay crabs to collect things for our first home. Both his and my leases happened to end at the same time, until then we would shop for what we would need. Growing up with out the simple knowledge that bedding wasn’t all animal themed acrylic blankets, I loved that our first purchase together was “a high-end and high-quality down comforter.” The future seemed so bright snuggling warmly under that down comforter.

As life sometimes happens, he became ill. We, and life abandoned our plans to live together. Soon his family stepped in to help.

On a sunny day in June, 1998 I wandered through a garage sale. It was on a well-manicured driveway of the sister who stepped in to help six months earlier. The items were nothing exciting, just your average garage sale stuff. The kind owned by single man who had succumb to a non-disclosed disease. Maybe cancer. As I walked through the discarded household items, I could feel the weight of the entire family burn into me. When the sister had organized the clean out of his house, my cries that some of the items belonged to me and somewhere jointly purchased, had fallen on deaf ears.  After filling a bag with my own clothes I picked up a down comforter lying on the cement.  I quietly shelled out $50 borrowed dollars and walked down the drive to my truck. Even though it was June, I wrapped my newly acquired blanked around me and hopped into the cab and drove away. 

For the next fourteen years that cotton bag of goose down was my remembrance of what had been and what could have been. It was a memory filled and my prized possession. As life sometimes happens, the cotton turned yellow as it aged, and holes tore in the fabric and my memory.  Holding on like a gay Miss Havisham I clung to the comforter as if it actually held the memories of my long dead relationship.

Material items cannot possess another’s memory. If you fall prey to this fallacy you create your own Great Expectations. I will always have my first love whether I cling onto an old blanket, or have the possibility to make new memories cuddled up in bed with my new down comforter, with someone I love.  

9 comments:

SEAN said...

It was so brave of you to go to that garage sale.

Thanks for sharing that memory and love.

Tom Dart said...

In my closet I still have the comforter that used to belong to my ex-boyfriend (presently current best friend). He and his prior partner used the comforter before the partner's death. I heard the stories. The struggles. The love. This was the one tangible thing that they shared, that the family didn't fight over, and that still exists. My friend say's it's OK to throw it out. He doesn't say it convincingly. It is well beyond it's "use by" date but I just can't bring myself to throw it out for him. Odd that.

Jim said...

I have many items in my home now that my first partner, now long gone, as I purchased together. They are as much a part of me as he is.

Beautifully written memory and story my friend.

I'm weepin like a wee bairn now... :')

daemon said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. An amazing link between what we have, who we had and who we are. Beautiful.

daemon

rjjs8878 said...

I have a comforter that my late partner had custom made for our bed. He died in 1988. It’s now used in the guest bedroom. I can’t bear to get rid of it. Thanks for sharing your story.

BosGuy said...

May you have many wonderful dreams while wrapped in your new down comforter.

cb said...

I hope you get a new memory comforter. Personally I'm allergic to down, so all I can have are the cheap "alternative" comforters.

Erik Rubright said...

I might have teared up a little there reading this post. Apparently I might have a heart buried in there.

What did you do with the old comforter?

MileHighGayGuy said...

Love this.

If I had a nickel for every time I've referred to myself as "Denver's gay Miss Havisham" ...